Current State of Mental Health (US)

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Founded in 1909, Mental Health America is a non-profit organization that works to address the needs of those with mental illness and to promote the overall mental health of those in the United States.  MHA is committed to promoting mental health as part of overall wellness, which includes prevention services, early identification and intervention, and integrated care and treatment.  The goal of MHA is recovery for all, and their work is guided by their Before Stage 4 philosophy, “that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process.

MHA provides up-to-date data about the state of mental health in the US.  Some facts about mental health in 2017 include:

  • 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition
  • Rates of youth depression are worsening, from 8.5% in 2011 to 11.1% in 2014
  • While more Americans have access to services, most lack access to care. 56% of American adults with a mental illness did not receive treatment.
  • There is a shortage of mental health professionals. In the lowest workforce, there is only 1 mental health professional per 1,000 individuals; this includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatric nurses combined.
  • There seems to be a correlation between access to health care and incarceration rates. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama have the least access to care and the highest rates of imprisonment.  Over 57,000 people with mental health conditions are incarcerated in those 3 states alone.

MHA uses national survey data, which allows them to measure different communities’ mental health needs; they also rank each state based on different mental health issues, which shows which states are more effective at addressing mental health issues.  Analyzing similarities and differences between states can help with assessing how federal and state policies lead to more or less access to mental health care.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools for online screening tools for help.  Visit Mental Health America at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america for more information on the state of mental health in the US.