2021: The Prevalence of Mental Health in America

Mental health and mental illness are popular topics throughout the medical community. As our awareness of mental health conditions grows, so does our curiosity. This has led many researchers to conduct studies and collect data involving the prevalence of mental health conditions. Mental Health America has posted new data for 2021. This data examines the state of our mental health across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. 

Let’s take a look at some of the statistics gathered from this data and examine the prevalence of mental health in America. 

Adults with Mental Illness

According to the data collected by the MHA, an average of 19%, and a total of 47.1 million Americans struggle with a mental illness. Of those 47.1 million people almost 11% of them are uninsured. Meaning 2.4 million people had no access to mental healthcare unless they paid 100% out of pocket. 

Almost 1 in 5 American’s are struggling with a mental illness right now and at any given moment. Utah has the highest prevalence of mental illness with 25.25% of adults struggling with mental illness. That means 1 in 4 adults, living in Utah has a mental illness or symptoms related to a mental illness. 

States with Highest Percentage of Adults with Mental Illness 

1.Utah (25.25%)

2.Idaho (24.46%)

3.West Virginia (23.80%)

4.Indiana (22.51%)

5.Oregon (22.45%)

Adult Substance Abuse

Mental illness and substance abuse seem to go hand in hand. Across the United States, almost 8% of Americans abuse controlled substances. From state to state, the percentage ranges from 6.34% in Texas to 13.01% in the District of Columbia. 

In the Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report, data shows that 60% of adolescents participating in community-based treatment programs would also meet the criteria required to diagnose a specified mental illness in the DSM-5. 

From this same report, we can gather that 25% of individuals with a serious mental illness also struggle with a substance abuse disorder. 50% of individuals with a mental illness will also have a substance abuse disorder. The reverse statement is also true.

The link between mental illness and substance abuse may be due to the effect these substances have on the body. These effects may lead to mental illness. However, it has been proven that some individuals suffering from mental illness turn to controlled substances to self-medicate. Thus leading to substance abuse. 

This leads us to question if mental healthcare was more attainable, would this correlation be less substantial?

States with Highest Percentage of Adults with Substance Abuse Disorders 

1.District of Columbia (13.01%)

2.Colorado (11.90%)

3.Vermont (10.51%)

4.Oregon (9.94%)

5.Alaska (9.76%)

Youths with Mental Illness 

The MHA’s dataset shows that 13.84% of America’s youth are struggling with a mental illness. Depression is the most common mental illness associated with the youth. But, out of all the adolescents struggling with depression last year, almost 60% of them did not receive treatment.

Approximately 2 in 7 young people in America have a mental illness. But, 7.8% of our youth is either uninsured or has insurance that does not cover mental or emotional issues. Considering the prevalence of depression in adolescents, these kids must have access to mental health services such as counseling and support groups. 

States with Highest Percentage of Youths with Mental Illness

1.Oregon (71.57%)

2.New Mexico (17.43%)

3.Idaho (16.70%)

4.Utah (16.64%)

5.Oklahoma (16.48%)

Youth Substance Abuse

1 in 25 adolescents across America has a substance abuse disorder. Only 1 in 4 of those kids received consistent treatment for their disorder. That means almost 3 out of every 100 adolescents did not receive adequate treatment for their substance abuse disorder. 

States with Highest Percentage of Youths with Substance Abuse Disorders

1.Vermont (5.61%)

2.District of Columbia (5.42%)

3.Montana (5.18%)

4.Colorado (5.12%)

5.Nevada (5.09%)

What Does This Mean?

The United States is one of the most developed countries in the World. Our GDP is ranked second behind China, yet we are struggling as a nation to develop an effective mental health system. 20% of the adults in our nation struggle with mental illness. 5% of adults are living with a severe mental health condition that substantially impacts their quality of life. 

In the United States, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. In 2019, there were 1.38 million suicide attempts, out of which 47,511 resulted in death. The United States is the highest-ranked country, among developed nations, in suicide attempts. 

Yet- mental health care is not universal. Most insurance companies offer coverage for the treatment of mental disorders, but few of them cover regular therapy. Even the insurances that do cover talk therapy, only cover a few visits per year. 

As a nation, we need to stand up and demand notice. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We are all affected by mental illness, whether personally or due to a loved one. 

Published by alswartz

I am an aspiring novelist working on my first book. I have an interest in mental health and each of my works is related to mental health in some way.

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