New report examines the surprising ups – and downs – of mental health treatment in America

By Stacy M Brown,
Senior National Correspondent for NNPA Newswire

The District of Columbia ranks among the top 10 states for best mental health, or the combination of the lowest prevalence of mental illness and better access to medical care, according to the annual Mental Health AmericaState of Mental Health in America” Report.

Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Maryland round out the top 10.

The states at the bottom of the ranking have higher prevalence rates and less access to care. These states include: Kansas, Indiana, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.

“Also this year, the evidence of the urgent crisis we face in American mental health is unequivocal,” Schroeder Stribling, MHA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. He added, “From large numbers of our youth contemplating suicide to a rise in drug use to widespread difficulties in accessing the care they seek, Americans experience high levels of need and frequent challenges to getting help to get.”

Stribling said Mental Health America has continued to work to address and turn the numbers around, including advocating for improvements in policy and practice that reach people where they are — at the right time, with the right help.

“Everyone deserves access to the care they need and the opportunity to live a thriving life of recovery,” Stribling said.

MHA found that of the more than 50 million Americans suffering from a mental illness, 55% were not receiving treatment, with access and cost being the main reasons.

Most of those who said they could not access needed mental health care said they could not afford the care, MHA researchers found. In addition, many did not know where to get services, thought they could manage their mental health without treatment, did not have time, or their health insurance did not pay enough for mental health care.

The researchers added that 11% of adults with a mental illness are uninsured and 1 in 10 adolescents with private insurance have no coverage for mental health treatments.

“Our country has a known shortage of mental health providers — one provider for every 350 people — and barriers, such as lack of insurance or insurance underperforming the cost of mental health care, clearly geographically exacerbate the lack of access for those who need help and racial differences,” said Maddy Reinert, senior director of population health at MHA.

“We cannot expect mental health in the United States to improve if those in need do not have access to the kind of care they want.”

In an effort to gain more support for mental health, DC Councilman Robert White introduced the District’s Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act of 2022, which would allow students to earn a master’s degree in social work at the University of the District of Columbia for free graduate

White, who has eight co-sponsors on the 13-member council, would allow eligible applicants with bachelor’s degrees to receive scholarships covering tuition and books. It also offers the students a monthly stipend to cover living expenses and transportation.

“As the pandemic started, I heard from so many people that they felt they needed mental health professionals and they couldn’t find them and we realized we had a pipeline problem,” White explained.

In releasing its annual report, MHA said it aims to provide a snapshot of adolescent and adult mental health for policy and program planning, analysis and evaluation.

In addition, officials want to track changes in the prevalence of mental health problems and access to mental health care, understand how changes in national data reflect the impact of laws and policies, and increase dialogue with individuals and families with mental health needs and improve outcomes.

“Everyone deserves access to the care they need and the opportunity to live a thriving life of recovery,” Stribling said.

Help us spread OUR story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members! Connect here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *