A Look at Mental Health in the United States During Mental Health Awareness Month 2022

Last year, I took a deep dive into some statistics and data surrounding mental health and the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month. I think that diving into data and statistics is one of the clearest ways to make mental health visible in our society. The more we use anecdotal evidence or rely on assumptions, the harder it is to have a conversation around mental health and mental illness. That being said, I tried to find the most recent data I could to figure out the state of mental health in the United States.

From Mental Health America’s 2022 Findings:

  • In 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86% of adults experienced a mental illness, equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans.  
  • 15.08% of youth experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.24% increase from last year’s dataset.
  • Over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and multiracial youth are at greatest risk. 10.6% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression (depression that severely affects functioning). The rate of severe depression was highest among youth who identified as more than one race, at 14.5% (more than one in every seven multiracial youth).
  • The percentage of adults with a mental illness who report unmet need for treatment has increased every year since 2011. In 2019, 24.7% of adults with a mental illness report an unmet need for treatment. 
  • Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. 
  • Both adults and youth in the U.S. continue to lack adequate insurance coverage. 11.1% of Americans with a mental illness are uninsured, and 8.1% of children had private insurance that did not cover mental health services, totaling 950,000 youth.

From the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in 2020:

  • 1 in 15 U.S adults experienced both a substance use disorder and mental illness
  • 12+ million U.S adults had serious thoughts of suicide
  • 1 in 5 U.S adults report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health
  • Among U.S. adults who received mental health services: 17.7 million experienced delays or cancellations in appointments, 7.3 million experienced delays in getting prescriptions, and 4.9 million were unable to access needed care
  • 26.3 million U.S adults received virtual mental health services in the past year

There are plenty more statistics I could find to share with you today, but I think I have enough here to share my takeaway. From these statistics, a few things are clear: 1) there are many more people dealing with mental health crises in this country than most of us know; 2) millions of people who are struggling are not receiving the care they need, either because they are unable or unwilling; and 3) the mental health stigma has made it difficult for people to advocate for their needs or access treatment.

Being aware of mental health is one thing but the fact is, millions of people are not getting the care, attention, or support their need for mental health challenges. If you’re one of those people, I urge you to talk to someone, anyone, about getting the care you deserve. If you aren’t one of those people, think about how you can help people get what they need. Like other aspects of health, mental health is a collective effort, and we need to come together as a community if we’re going to have any hope of changing these statistics.

Do the mental health statistics in this post surprise you? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!


3 thoughts on “A Look at Mental Health in the United States During Mental Health Awareness Month 2022

  1. Antonio_S May 16, 2022 / 9:25 am

    These stats are for sure jarring. It’s crazy how many people, especially today, go their whole lives without mental health treatment or even considering it. There’s a MASSIVE cultural component in the US, unfortunately, that stigmatizes mental health treatment even today. But the good news is we’re doing our part to erase the stigma, and posts like this are what we need to do that! Great words, Nathan! Keep up the advocacy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Smith May 27, 2022 / 3:04 pm

      Every year I’ve looked up these stats, the numbers about people refusing or not considering treatment is always frustrating to see. But there’s a culture shift that needs to happen, and erasing the stigma is possible! Thank you for your kind words, and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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