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New MHA Report Ranks States, Shows Massive Gap in Mental Health Access for Youth

Alexandria, VA—Mental Health America (MHA) today released its annual State of Mental Health in America report, with startling numbers of how many Americans are not receiving the necessary treatments for mental health and substance use issues. Of particular concern is that even among our most severely depressed youth, only 22 percent are receiving adequate treatment for their mental health problems.  

“Too many Americans are suffering, and far too many are not receiving the services they need to live healthy and productive lives,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “When almost two-thirds of young people who have depression are not getting treatment they need, that is shameful. This is a wake-up call; we can’t ignore these numbers any longer – and in an election year they need to be part of our national dialogue.”

MHA once again this year provided overall rankings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia evaluating both the prevalence of mental health issues and access to mental health care in America.  Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Connecticut rank as the top three states for mental health, while Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon were at the bottom in this year’s rankings. This year, MHA partnered with the data visual developers at HealthGrove to produce online interactive heat maps that allow visitors to explore how the 50 states compare to one another as well as the visual representation of changes in the data over time.

The report provides a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults for policy and program planning, analysis, and evaluation; tracks changes in prevalence of mental health issues and access to mental health care; and analyzes how changes in national data reflect the impact of legislation like the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is MHA’s hope that the report will increase dialogue and improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs. 

Some key findings in this year’s report:

  • Over the last few years, more youth are becoming depressed yet 64 percent of youth with depression do not receive any treatment.
  • Only 22 percent of youth with severe depression receive any kind of consistent outpatient treatment. In Nevada, 90 percent of severely depressed youth received no treatment or inadequate treatment.
  • Nationally, 57 percent of adults with mental illness receive no treatment.  Even in the highest ranking states only about half of all adults with mental illness receive any mental health treatment – showing that access to treatment remains a serious problem.
  • Access to insurance does not mean access to treatment. One in five adults with a disability report difficulty getting care due to costs.

Some state-specific findings:

  • States that rank in the top ten are in the Northeast and Midwest, while most states that rank in the bottom ten are in the South and the West.
  • Overall, Minnesota placed 1st with the lowest prevalence of mental illness and the highest rates of access to care while Oregon came in last at 51st, largely due to high prevalence rates of mental health and substance use despite fair access to care.
  • Adults living in states with the highest percentage of uninsured adults with mental illness are 3 times more likely to be uninsured compared to those who live in the states with highest rates of insurance access. Many of those states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, which could widen the gap further in coming years.
  • State disparities in access to insurance are alarming. Adults with mental illness living in Nevada (33.4 percent) are 10 times more likely to be uninsured compared to individuals in Massachusetts (3.3 percent).  Children living in Hawaii (19.4 percent) are also 10 times less likely to have adequate mental health coverage compared to children in Connecticut (2 percent).
  • Available mental health providers are scarce: In states with the greatest number of available mental health providers, there are approximately 250 individuals for every one mental health provider. In states with the lowest number, there are approximately 1,100 individuals for every one provider – that is more than 4 times less access to treatment providers in lower ranking states.

MHA’s report also includes an Issue Spotlight which focuses this year on Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Health. The Issue Spotlight provides information on factors that are helpful or harmful to mental health throughout the early lifespan, and discusses programs and policies that address risk factors and increases protective factors in order to promote the prevention and early intervention of mental illness.  

MHA believes we must invest in the overall physical and mental well-being of all our citizens—every day. Like other diseases, we can and should address mental health concerns and symptoms early and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health. Prevention, early identification and intervention are essential to recovery. MHA is actively advocating in support of mental health reform in Congress, and continues to weigh in on the bipartisan legislation that is currently in both chambers. MHA will be on Capitol Hill this week and will share this report directly with lawmakers as further proof that it’s time to fix this broken system.

“We need to act, and act now,” concluded Gionfriddo. “Regardless of where you live, we must improve access to care and treatments, and we should put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. We must pass comprehensive mental health reform legislation this year so that we can finally create a system in which we can address mental illness before a crisis occurs—before Stage 4.”

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About Mental Health America
Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated care and treatment for those who need it—with recovery as the goal. Learn more at www.mentalhealthamerica.net 

About HealthGrove
HealthGrove’s mission is to simplify the process of sharing the world's knowledge by transforming complicated data sets into vivid and contextually-rich visualizations.  With dedicated teams of researchers and data scientists, their industry leading data visuals are based on the world's deepest and most interconnected knowledge graph, creating a web of data points and contextual information.  Learn more at https://www.graphiq.com/industry-health

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