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Prioritizing Mental Health Care In America

Published on: May 03, 2022.


37% of the U.S. population

live in a mental health professional shortage area

About this Data Insights

By the end of 2021, Americans found themselves in one of the worst nationwide mental health crises in years. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental illness each year, or more than 50 million people. Unfortunately, less than half of the people in need ever receive the mental health care they require. Due to physician burnout, a workforce shortage, and poor funding, this country has long struggled with handling the growing mental health crisis and providing equitable access to behavioral health care. The mental health system in America may be largely broken, but conditions are ideal for transforming the system with scientific advances, improved coverage, and political consensus on the importance of mental health. Goals once thought to be long out of reach may soon be possible.

This infographic highlights the many challenges contributing to America’s mental health crisis as well as steps to improve and strengthen mental health care and the behavioral health industry and promote individual resiliency.

Citations
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Any Mental Illness (AMI) Definition: National Institute of Mental Health, Transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses, January 2022

U.S. Adults Experienced Mental Illness in 2020: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, October 2021

Over 50 Million Americans: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, October 2021

Covid-19 and Mental Health: Kaiser Family Foundation, The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use, February 2021

Mental Disorders Account For At Least 18% of Global Disease Burden: Campion J, Javed A, Lund C, et al. Public mental health: required actions to address implementation failure in the context of COVID-19. Lancet Psychiatry. February 2022

An Unmet Need When It Comes to Mental Health

Over Half of Adults with a Mental Illness Do Not Receive Treatment: Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2022

  • NOTE: The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. For most indicators, the data represent data collected up to 2019

Around 1 in 4 Adults Report an Unmet Need: Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2022

  • NOTE: The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. For most indicators, the data represent data collected up to 2019

Mental Health Professional Shortage Area: Health Resources & Services Administration, Shortage Areas, April 2022

  • NOTE: Assuming U.S population is 332 million
  • NOTE: The Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) Dashboard displays data on the geographic area, population, and facility shortage designations throughout the US

Americans Struggle with Mental Health

Mental Health Issues in The Past 12 Months: Statista, Majority of Americans Have Struggled with Mental Health, August 2021

Around 5% of Adults Reported Serious Thoughts of Suicide: Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2022

  • NOTE: The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. For most indicators, the data represent data collected up to 2019

Around 8% Adults Had a Substance Use Disorder in The Past Year: Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2022

  • NOTE: The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. For most indicators, the data represent data collected up to 2019

Barriers to Receiving Treatment

Over Half of Adults with a Mental Illness Do Not Receive Treatment: Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2022

  • NOTE: The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. For most indicators, the data represent data collected up to 2019

Stigma & Education: Unite for Site, Module 6: Barriers to Mental Health Care

Social Determinants of Mental Health: The Commonwealth Fund, Making It Easy to Get Mental Health Care: Examples from Abroad, February 2021

Not All Barriers Are Felt Equally

Many Adults Do Not Have a Usual Source of Health Care: Coombs NC, Meriwether WE, Caringi J, Newcomer SR. Barriers to healthcare access among U.S. adults with mental health challenges: A population-based study. SSM Population Health. June 2021

  • NOTE: For this study, Mental Health Challenges is defined using the 6-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). The K6 measures non-specific psychological distress over the 30-day period prior to interview by assessing the frequency with which participants experienced feelings of sadness, nervousness, restlessness, hopelessness, worthlessness and everything being an effort.

Top Reasons People with Mental Challenges Delay Care: Coombs NC, Meriwether WE, Caringi J, Newcomer SR. Barriers to healthcare access among U.S. adults with mental health challenges: A population-based study. SSM Population Health. June 2021

  • NOTE: For this study, Mental Health Challenges is defined using the 6-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). The K6 measures non-specific psychological distress over the 30-day period prior to interview by assessing the frequency with which participants experienced feelings of sadness, nervousness, restlessness, hopelessness, worthlessness and everything being an effort.

How to Improve & Strengthen Mental Health In America

Mental Health Prevention & Promotion: Royal Society for Public Health, Public mental health: Evidence, practice and commissioning, May 2019

Integrate Behavioral Health Care Into Primary Care: American Medical Association, Behavioral Health Integration Into Primary Care, August 2021

Expand the Mental Health Workforce: Kaiser Permanente, Creating the mental health workforce of the future, January 2022

  • Exposing young people to mental health career paths
  • Reduce financial barriers
  • Ease the clinical hours requirement
  • Focus on diversity

Strategies to Make Mental Health More Financially Accessible: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Strategies to Afford Mental Health Treatment, April 2022

  • Online therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Counseling from university clinics
  • Sliding scale providers

Utilize Employee Assistance Programs: The Center for Workplace Mental Health, Employee Assistance Programs, 2022

Resiliency and Wellness Training: The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, Resiliency, Coping and Wellness Training, 2021

Peer-Support Hotline Service: National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI HelpLine, 2022


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