The State of Mental Health in America – Curated Content by evolvedMD (Jan 2021)
evolvedMD Reacts to the Harrowing State of Mental Health in America 2022
To change the conversation and reimagine behavioral health in primary care, evolvedMD is proud to curate content that effectively illustrates the state of mental health. With that, we wanted to share these sobering stats as part of the recently released State of Mental Health in America 2022 report by Mental Health America, one of the Nation’s leading authorities on mental health research and resources. This comprehensive study gives great insight into something we know firsthand: people are struggling, and many don’t have access to life-changing and, in some cases, life-saving services, and something must be done.
Below are highlights and key takeaways from the report:
- Our key states, Arizona (ranked 49th) and Utah (ranked 43rd), had higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care.
- Even in top-ranked Vermont, 43% of adults experiencing a mental illness were not receiving treatment.
- Even in states with the greatest access, nearly one in three youth are going without treatment.
- 11.1% of Americans with a mental illness are uninsured.
- The mental health workforce shortage affects more people than primary care and dental workforce shortages combined.
- 19.86% experienced a mental illness, equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans.
- Over half (27 million+ adults) with a mental illness do not receive treatment.
- The percentage with a mental illness who report unmet need for treatment has increased every year since 2011.
- 4.58% report having serious thoughts of suicide (estimated number with serious suicidal thoughts is over 11.4 million—an increase of 664,000 people from last year).
- 15.08% (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Only half of children with pediatric major depression are diagnosed before adulthood.
- 60.3% with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.
- Youth of color are significantly less likely to receive depression treatment than white youth.
As thought leaders in this space, the evolvedMD leadership team spent intentional time discussing these findings and reflected on the stats that stood out to them personally. Read their thoughts and insights on the findings below:
evolvedMD Leadership Team Reactions
On Barriers to Access
Erik Osland, Co-Founder and Managing Partner: What these findings illuminate is the need for increased access to care using our unique model. This is true whether we’re talking about the lowest ranked states or the top-ranked states; the fact that 43% of adults in Vermont, the top-ranked state in this study overall, are experiencing a mental illness and not receiving treatment is as frustrating as it is disturbing. Using an enhanced version of the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Management (CoCM) model, we’ve made incredible strides increasing access to people in need of mental health treatment. For each Behavioral Health Manager (a master’s level clinician we embed onsite at primary care practices) we add to our roster is another 1,680 patients we can see each year. As we continue to expand our footprint nationwide and add more clinicians to our team to meet demand, the number of patients we can see will continue to grow, too.”
Steve Biljan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner: “According to the data, the percentage of youths with at least one major depressive episode in the past year who did not receive treatment decreased from 60% to 39%. In addition, the percentage of youth with at least one severe major depressive episode who received some consistent treatment increased from 22% in 2017-2018 to 43% in 2018-2019. With Colorado’s overall ranking increasing from 47, one of the worst in the country, to 37 in 2022 is encouraging. I like to think the Colorado SIM project was a major driver in the state’s improvement. There’s certainly more to be done, but the state’s heading in the right direction.
However, I’m anxious about Arizona. The percentage of adults with any mental illness who did not receive treatment increased from 53% in 2017-2018 to 57% in 2018-2019. The state’s overall ranking decreased from 40 in 2021 to 49 in 2022. Unfortunately, this is in line with the annual rankings prior to 2021.”
Kim Ho, Director of Sales: “The fact that the mental health workforce shortage affects more people than primary care and dental workforce shortages combine is astounding. The need for mental health professionals is a much bigger issue than any of us even imagined, especially given the lack of access for most Americans.”
Dr. Ruth Nutting, Director of Clinical Programs: “I am concerned with the rates of poor access to mental health services within Arizona and Utah. However, I am hopeful we will begin to see these rates decrease as evolvedMD addresses this disparity head-on. Behavioral health integration must occur within all health systems to provide much-needed access to mental health services for adult and pediatric populations.”
On Disparities in Mental Health Treatment for People of Color
Sentari Minor, Head of Strategy: “For me, the takeaway that youth of color are significantly less likely to receive depression treatment than white youth is not surprising but still staggering. Very candid about my mental health journey, I know firsthand how stigma plays into perceptions of therapy and counseling among people of color, but the lack of focus and access are astounding. But with this data we (evolvedMD, national nonprofits, policymakers, etc.) can be more intentional and thoughtful about how we engage adolescents, especially those from minoritized communities.”
Charlene Wong, Director of People: “Emotional expression in many Asian cultures is often mediated by beliefs regarding emotional restraint where extremely positive or extremely negative emotions are suppressed to preserve group harmony. Emotional restraint is seen as a sign of patience, self-control, and strong character, but in the United States, these qualities may be seen as passive and weak, which may contribute to negative self-image. Though there may be collective benefits to emotional restraint, for individuals suffering from emotional distress, suppression of emotional expression may exacerbate psychological distress. The value placed on emotional restraint may also contribute to the stigma associated with mental illness in many Asian cultures and the subsequent avoidance of mental health treatment. Having mental health services available in educational settings could be a means to creating healthier communities for our youth.”
On Youth and the Mental Health Crisis
Dr. Ruth Nutting, Director of Clinical Programs: “Youth are going without mental health treatment because this need is often not recognized due to a lack of behavioral health assessment in primary care settings. If children receive screening and intervention for behavioral health needs, such as depression, the risk of persistence and severity of mental health conditions in adulthood will decrease.”
On Reducing Stigma
Sarah Hanchett, Director of Clinical Services: “It is staggering to me that over half of adults and essentially two-thirds of youth are not receiving treatment for their mental health symptoms. That represents so much suffering in our world, which saddens me. It also motivates me to continue or work of integrating behavioral health services within primary care, where we can immediately reach thousands of people by collaborating with just one clinic. With the innovative work we’re doing, I’m enthusiastic about reducing the stigma associated with receiving mental health services and increasing access to care for individuals and our communities.”
On Suicidal Ideation and Prevention
Steve Biljan, Managing Partner: “I really like that this year’s report had a spotlight on the new 988 number launching in July.”
evolvedMD is on an audacious path to reduce stigma, normalize behavioral health, and provide high-quality services to everyone. These harrowing stats only further our commitment to upfront and ongoing care to ultimately ensure everyone who needs help, receives it. By the end of 2021, we’re on track to provide upfront and ongoing care for over 250 primary care providers across nearly 40 sites in Arizona and Utah, with goals to grow, scale, and expand our footprint nationwide. We’re proud of the positive impact we’ve already had on patients and their families since our founding in 2017, and we look forward to enhancing our impact in the coming months and years as we continue to grow.
For a deeper look at how we are achieving our mission, check out recent stories and announcements in the evolvedMD resource center: www.evolvedmd.com/resources.