Mental Health America has released its “State of Mental Health Report” for the third year in a row, showing a country that has made small gains in the amount of insured people nationally, but a fractured mental health care system where location may play a pivotal factor in whether someone who needs mental health care receives it.
Statistically, despite where you live in the United States, you are not likely to receive mental health care when you need it. In fact, 56 percent of all Americans are not getting the mental health care they need, according to Mental Health America.
The report out of Alexandria, Virginia, addresses mental health issues on a national and state level. It shows rankings of states where people are most likely to receive mental health care and states where they are least likely to receive it. Alarmingly, the report also shows that children are not receiving the mental health care they need, which some experts believe is one of the most sobering aspects of the report.
The rates of youth depression have increased from 8.5 percent to 11.1 percent within a three year time span, which means more than one out of every 10 American children have depression. Worse yet, only 40 percent of those children who are depressed are getting the expert care they need, according to the Huffington Post.
This is suggestive of significant increases in mental health illness for the future, because the longer someone is not treated, the more severe their mental health illness becomes, according to John Greden, the director of the University of Michigan’s Depression Center. Early intervention is important to help young people avoid the stigma that is often associated with mental health problems and makes them less likely to experience other related problems, including substance abuse or misuse and difficulties with education.
“Letting these illnesses go only makes them worse. We believe that not addressing mental health issues in children and teenagers is likely a variable in so many educational problems. Treatment can lead to success.”
Another significant problem is distribution of mental health care professionals. As with most areas of medicine, rural areas are more likely to not be able to meet the demands of the people who reside there because there simply aren’t enough practicing mental health professionals in those areas. In some states, the ratio of mental heal professionals to people are more than 1,000 people to every professional. In Alabama, which has many rural communities, the ratio is one mental health professional to every 1,200 people.
It has been cited in previous research that the most common amount of time that a physician spends with each patient is 13 to 19 minutes, according to Statistica. It’s easy to understand how the majority of people who need help are not able to get help in a timely fashion.
The report shows that Nevada is suffering the most with the lack of mental health care, while Connecticut is the most successful in treating people with mental health issues. However, no state is immune to a lack of health care and providers. Even for states with a larger amount of providers, there are thousands of people who are not receiving the care they need.
Paul Gionfriddo, the chief executive officer of Mental Health America, says that more funds need to be allocated for treatment of mental health in order to invoke significant changes.
“What these rankings come down to is access, investment and explaining to policy makers that they have a choice. They can invest now in mental health and prevention or they can invest later as it becomes a public health issue. Mental illness touches everyone…we need to put a premium on early intervention.”
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