Mental Health America, a non-profit entity dedicated to gauging the mental health needs of the country, recently released the results of a nation-wide study that confirms what many of us suspected: There is a mental health crisis occurring in the United States right now.
The sheer number of those reaching out for help just in the last few years is staggering, with a 500% increase in numbers between 2019 and 2020 alone. Youths between the ages 11-17 make up 45% of this population, signifying the stark reality that our young people are in crisis.
“These new statistics support what we already know—our youth need help now. It is imperative that we ensure every young person has access to high-quality, affordable mental health resources that meet diverse cultural and language needs. This means increasing the focus on prevention and early intervention strategies, and addressing the economic and social barriers that contribute to poor mental health.”Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO of Mental Health America
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The need for mental health treatment options for our youth continues to grow:
- Larger numbers of youth in the U.S. have major depression. 15.08% of youth experienced a major depressive episode in the past year and in some states, up to 19% of those ages 12-17 experienced major depression.
- Over 60% of youth with major depression lack mental health treatment. Nearly one in three youths lack necessary treatment. In Texas, this number is even higher, with nearly three-quarters of youth with depression going without treatment. Even those who seek out help are proven to lack consistent treatment needed.
- Rates of substance use are increasing for youth and adults, including years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, substance use disorder increased 7.74% in U.S. adults and 4.08% of youth.
Key findings of the study reveal that mental health is declining among other portions of our population as well.
- Imbalance in Mental Health Treatment for Youth of Color: White youth were most likely to receive mental health treatment for depression, while Asian youth were least likely to seek treatment. Native American or American Indian, multiracial, and Black youth, usually accessed non-specialty mental health services in school settings.
- More than 2.5 million American youth have severe depression, with multiracial youth at greatest risk. Major depression is classified as depression that severely affects functioning. 10.6% of U.S. youth have severe depression. The rate was highest among those who identified as more than one race. More than one in every seven multiracial youth experiences debilitating depression.
Racism in this country has been found to be a major factor in mental health issues among the Black population. Maddy Reinert, senior director of population health at MHA stated,“When we broke that down (the statistics) by race, we saw, both in 2020 and 2021, that racism was being reported as a main top-three contributor to mental distress for Black screeners—much more so than screeners of any other race or ethnicity.”
Adults are feeling the effects of this trend as well. Suicidal ideation continues to grow as does the percentage of adults with mental illness. Over half of those who suffer do not seek treatment, amounting to over 27 million adults in the United States.
While awareness about mental health increases among the population, stigma decreases and more accurate numbers can be tallied. This does not account for the stark increase in mental health needs among the population. Treatment options are available even if you don’t have resources or insurance. If you are in need of help, please call SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) at 1-800-662-4357 or visit samhsa.gov. If you are experiencing an emergency, call or text 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.