Both Mental Health America (MHA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that the prevalence of mental illness in America is rapidly rising. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a 13% increase in mental health conditions and substance use disorders since 2017. Although mental illness is becoming a mainstream issue, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic. We must educate ourselves on the topic to eliminate stereotypes and discrimination regarding mental illness.
Increase in Prevalence
In 2021, 19% of adults living in America struggled with mental illness. The MHA data set from early 2022 indicates that nearly 20%, or 1 in 5, adults struggle with mental illness. The number of individuals rose from 47.1 to 50 million Americans struggling with mental health issues. Nearly 5% of Americans are at war with a severe mental illness.
Major depressive episodes are increasing among American youth as well. Compare the 2022 data set to the 2021 MHA data set. Note that an additional 306,000 young Americans experienced a major depressive episode. Of the 306,000 individuals, 197,000 suffered from severe MDEs.
Increase in Substance Abuse
The 2022 MHA data set also indicates a significant increase in substance use disorders throughout America. Over 4% of America’s youth report having a substance use disorder with alcohol or an illicit drug. Almost 8% of adults in America report having an alcohol or drug use disorder.
The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics found that 50% of Americans 12 and older have used an illicit drug on one or more occasions. The Addiction group released addiction statistics claiming that a mere 11% of adults fighting a substance use disorder receive treatment. An additional 20% of these adults are unaware of where they can find help.
Increase in Suicide Ideation
Over 4.5% of adults report having significant thoughts of suicide. 11.4 million Americans are estimated to experience suicidal thoughts. That is an annual increase of 664,000 individuals. The number of adults who report experiencing suicidal ideation has steadily increased annually since 2011.
46,000 Americans took their lives in 2021. It was the 12th leading cause of death. The number of individuals that died from suicide was double those that died by homicide. One of the most substantial risk factors for suicide is mental illness. We can better prevent suicide by raising awareness and assisting individuals with mental illness in finding assistance.
Mental Healthcare is the Key
The American Hospital Association issued a House Statement: America’s Mental Health Crisis on February 2, 2022. In the statement, the association addresses the United States House of Representatives regarding the mental health crisis following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the introduction, the association states, “While behavioral health care has long been underfunded, underappreciated, and stigmatized, the pandemic has intensified the unmet need for services and has led to heightened difficulties for individuals with behavioral health conditions in accessing care.”
The statement notes that the US healthcare system is too underfunded to meet the behavioral health needs of Americans. In addition, there is a severe lack of specialists in behavioral health care. The American Hospital Association also indicates in the statement that Medicare and Medicaid programs contain policies that result in confusion and delay in treating mental health conditions.
Lack of mental and behavioral health funding led to the closure of mental health facilities and hospitals across the country. These closures resulted in a 97% decline in psychiatric beds from 1955 to 2016. 100.0 million Americans reside in regions lacking enough psychiatrists and addiction counselors to treat the population. Due to the minimal availability of specialized mental and behavioral health treatment, 25% of hospital admissions can be connected to a behavioral health issue.
Improving the behavioral health system in America could improve the general health system.