Going beyond the startling high and low statistics on mental illness in America

The District of Columbia is among the top 10 states with the best mental health, or the combination of the lowest prevalence of mental illness and the best access to care, according to Mental Health America’s annual report on the state of mental health in America.
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Maryland round out the top 10.

States at the bottom of the ranking have higher prevalence rates and less access to care. These states include Kansas, Indiana, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada.
“This year, once again, the evidence is clear regarding the urgent mental health crisis we face in the United States,” Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO of MHA, said in a statement.

“From the high number of our young people contemplating suicide, to an increase in substance use, to the widespread difficulty in accessing the care they seek, Americans are experiencing high rates of distress and frequent difficulty obtaining help,” Stribling noted.

Stribling promised Mental Health America continued to work to address and reverse the numbers, including advocating for policy and practice improvements that reach people where they are — at the right time, with the right help.

“Everyone deserves access to the care they need and the opportunity to live a thriving life of recovery,” Stribling said.

MHA found that 55% of the more than 50 million Americans with mental illness have not received treatment, with access and cost being the main reasons.

Most of those who indicated they could not access needed mental health treatment said they could not afford the care, the MHA researchers found.

This reason was followed by not knowing where to get services, thinking they could manage their mental health without treatment, not having the time, or health insurance not paying enough for treatment. Mental Health.

The researchers added that 11% of adults with mental illness are uninsured and that one in 10 young people with private insurance have no coverage for mental health treatment.

“Our country has a known shortage of mental health care providers – one provider for every 350 people – and barriers such as lack of insurance or insurance that does not sufficiently cover the cost of mental health care compound the lack of access for those who need help, with geographic and racial disparities,” said Maddy Reinert, senior director of population health at MHA.

“We cannot expect mental health to improve in the United States if people in need cannot access the kinds of care they want.”

In an effort for more mental health support, DC Council Member Robert White introduced the District Behavioral Health Degree Pathways Act of 2022, which would allow students to pursue for free a master’s degree in social work from the University of the District of Columbia.

White’s bill, which has eight co-sponsors on the 13-member board, would allow eligible applicants with bachelor’s degrees to get scholarships that cover tuition and books. It also provides students with a monthly stipend to cover living and transportation costs.

“When the pandemic started, I heard from so many people who thought they needed mental health professionals, and they couldn’t find it, and what we realized was we have a pipeline problem. “, said White.

In releasing its annual report, the MHA said it aims to provide insight into youth and adult mental health for policy and program planning, analysis and evaluation.

Additionally, officials want to track changes in the prevalence of mental health conditions and access to mental health care, understand how changes in national data reflect the impact of legislation and policies, and increase dialogue. with and improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs. .

“Everyone deserves access to the care they need and the opportunity to live a flourishing life of recovery,” Stribling insisted.

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