State Of Mental Health In America "Still Quite Bleak," Report Says

By Victoria Kim 11/07/18

New data shows “alarming increases in adult suicidal thoughts and major depression in youth.”

sad man sitting on stairs with hands covering his face

Talking about mental health is becoming less taboo, but is this making a real difference? 

According to a new report that offers a snapshot of mental health in the United States, overall the picture is “still quite bleak.”

The annual State of Mental Health report, compiled by Mental Health America (MHA), saw encouraging trends since the release of the first report. These include slight decreases in the number of American adults who have mental health concerns (18.19% to 18.07%) or substance use problems (8.76% to 7.93%).

However, according to president and CEO of MHA Paul Gionfriddo, the data shows “alarming increases in adult suicidal thoughts and major depression in youth.”

An estimated 9.8 million adults experience suicidal thoughts—an increase of 200,000 people since 2017. And more than 2 million young people were diagnosed with severe major depression, according to the report.

Overall, more than 24 million Americans living with mental health issues go untreated.

“Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about—far too many people are still suffering. People are simply not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives—and too many don’t see a way out,” said Gionfriddo in a press release.

The MHA report ranked all 50 states and Washington, D.C. based on rates of mental health issues and access to treatment. Minnesota came out on top at #1, with Nevada ranked #51. States ranked higher were deemed to have lower prevalence of mental health issues and better access to treatment, while states ranked lower were deemed to have more mental health issues with less access to care.

The report also studied the long-term impact of childhood trauma, and determined that youth affected by trauma are more likely to have problems at school such as missing school, being removed from classrooms, and struggling with schoolwork.

Thus MHA “strongly supports” integrating mental health services in schools. Early intervention and education can prevent the development of more severe mental health problems and help kids deal with trauma.

This year, New York became the first state to require mental health education across all grades. Virginia enacted a similar rule this year, requiring mental health education to be taught in the 9th and 10th grades.

“When young people learn about mental health and that it is an important aspect of overall health and well-being, the likelihood increases they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others will know where to turn for help—and it will decrease the stigma that attaches to help-seeking,” said NY’s Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr