A growing number of Americans are struggling with mental health every year. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans live with mental health issues on a daily basis. We know this from Mental Health America’s 2022 State of Mental Health in America Report. For the 8th year in a row, MHA released its annual report, which looks at our mental health based on 15 prevalence and access measures for youth and adults. The report confirms the trend that mental health in the US continued to worsen leading into the pandemic and remains problematic. In this article, we summarize key findings and highlight a few policies that can improve access to mental health resources.
Key findings from the 2022 report: Overall mental health
- Suicidal ideation continues to increase among adults in the US: 4.6% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide, an increase over prior years.
- Rates of substance use are increasing for youth and adults: 7.5% of adults and 4.1% of young people had a substance use disorder in the past year - an increase over the prior year.
- A growing percentage of young people in the US live with generalized depression. In fact, 15.1% of young people experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.3% increase over last year.
- Another 10.6% of young people in the US have severe depression (depression that severely affects the ability to function), and multiracial youth are at greatest risk for severe depression.
These statistics indicate that mental illness is a common problem for many. Most of us will be impacted by it at some point in our lives - or know a loved one who struggles. And if untreated, mental health issues lead to other health problems like insomnia, eating disorders, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic disorders.
Key findings from the 2022 report: Access to mental health treatment
- Over 50% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment - often because in-person treatment is not offered locally, because they do not know how to access treatment, or due to stigma around treatment.
- The percentage of adults with a mental illness who report unmet need for treatment has increased every year since 2011.
- Over 60% of young people with major depression do not receive mental health treatment. Even in states with the greatest access to treatment, nearly 33% go without treatment, and in states where access is the most difficult, nearly 75% did not receive mental health treatment.
- Some adults and young people continue to lack adequate insurance coverage for mental health treatment.
Are there policies and programs that can help address the state of mental health in America?
The MHA report also suggests policies that may improve access to mental health resources in the US - and one has just been implemented. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers around the country. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress - which they can reach just by dialing 988.
The report’s second recommendation is to increase mental health education and support in schools to address disparities in access to mental health treatment for youth of color. The report found that students of color disproportionately access their mental health care at school, often because they don’t have access to mental health services elsewhere. Given this data, the report recommends that “increasing access to school-based mental health services can promote equity and reduce disparities in access to care”.
Read more about the Report’s findings and recommendations here.
Mental Health America (MHA): 2022 State of Mental Health in America Report