The yearly “State of Mental Health Report,” has just been released by the country’s leading community-based non-profit, MHA, (Mental Health America), for the sixth year in a row. This very important study lists all fifty states as well as the District of Columbia, according to various measures such as their inhabitants’ mental health, and available access to treatment.
This year’s statistics show that: “Pennsylvania came out on top overall with Nevada coming in 51st”. The trends from the previous 6 years were also highlighted, and alarmingly, the data indicates that: “the mental health of our youth is getting worse, not better. Major depression in youth has increased 4.35% over the last 6 years – meaning over 2 million youth have severe depression. Shockingly, almost 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment”.
Mental Health America’s CEO, Paul Gionfriddo, stated: “Sadly, our report shows that our children continue to be in crisis. Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about – far too many young people are still suffering. It is imperative that we prioritize mental health for children and adolescents so that we can avoid crisis and so they can live healthy and productive lives”.
Taking a Look at the Data
The statistics paint a very gloomy and worrying picture. – And this is the case for both adults and children alike. – Close to 20%, that is more than 45 million individuals in the country, are experiencing a mental illness. More than 10.3 million adults suffer serious suicidal thoughts (alarmingly, this figure is up from last year by around 450,000); and 57% of adults who have a mental illness, are not receiving any treatment.
A Broken System
While it has to be acknowledged that America’s mental health is still in pieces, there is nonetheless, still some hope on the horizon. The report reveals that: “the rate of substance use disorders (SUD) in adults and in youth ages 12-17 has decreased”. Indeed, the drive for better public health and prevention through restricting the accessibility to drugs, has been shown to have a level of success, as the prevalence of adult and youngsters’ SUD is falling. Conversely, when it comes to adolescents and adults: alcohol is still the most used substance, with close to 75% of individuals over 12 years of age, (who have had a SUD over the last 12 months), also having an alcohol use disorder.
Gionfriddo summed up by saying: “While there are some improvements, it is clear we are not doing enough. We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes—before Stage 4″.