The United State’s Growing Mental Health Problem

Over the past year, I have noticed a few trends related to mental and behavioral health. This area of healthcare has become more highly discussed in the United States recently. Mental disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) and behavioral disorders (e.g., addiction) have been making headlines with increasing frequency.

Even President Trump’s motion to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency shows us clearly that these issues are on the rise, and many Americans are suffering.

Now, I’d like to share some statistics that help better outline the severity of these issues. About 45.1 million adults were identified as having a mental illness in the United States last year. Of those adults, about 11 million have a mental illness that could be categorized as “severe.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, over 8.9% of people have co-occurring disorders. This means they suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse.

Up to one in four primary care patients suffer from depression, yet primary care doctors identify less than one-third of these patients. People with psychotic and bipolar disorders are 45% and 26% less likely, respectively, to have a primary care doctor than those without a mental illness.

Studies suggest that about 25% of all adults in the US have some form of mental illness and that nearly 50% of US adults will develop at least one mental illness in their lifetime.

“It is essential that we continue to drive awareness of these issues.”

Since 2016, the accidental death rate has been climbing largely due to the surge in opioid overdoses. Over 64,000 drug overdose-related deaths were reported in 2016, and overdose-related deaths have now overtaken motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death.

With these statistics in mind, there is one fact we cannot ignore: There is a serious mental health workforce shortage in the United States. In states with the smallest mental health workforce, there are six individuals with at least one mental health disorder for every one mental healthcare professional. These professionals include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, psychiatric nurses, and more. Mental health disorders are now more common than both heart disease and cancer.

With the emergence of telehealth technology, there’s a big opportunity for providers to expand their reach and increase the scope of treatment for their patients. It is essential that we continue to drive awareness of these issues and seek innovative solutions to handling the multitude of issues associated with mental illness.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.