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New MHA State of Mental Health Report Shows America’s Youth in Crisis

For the fourth year in a row, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on several mental health and access measures. This year, Massachusetts came out on top overall with Nevada coming in 51st.

In developing the report, MHA looked at 15 different measures to determine the rankings. MHA hopes to provide a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults for policy and program planning, analysis, and evaluation; to track changes in prevalence of mental health issues and access to mental health care; to understand how changes in national data reflect the impact of legislation and policies; and to increase the dialogues and improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs.

While many may be drawn to results in individual states, most alarming in the report perhaps is the apparently state of our children:

  • In a 5-year period, rates of severe youth depression have increased.
  • 50% of screeners age 11-17 often think about suicide or self-harm throughout the week.
  • Over 76% of youth with severe depression – 1.7 million kids - did not get treatment they need.

“I wish I could say the mental health of our children is improving. Our report shows the opposite,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “Far too many young people are suffering –often in silence. They are not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives - and too many simply don’t see a way out.”

On average, it takes 10 years between the onset of symptoms and when individuals receive treatment.  Given that our young population is more likely to engage in risky behavior, it is important that mental health services and treatments be made available and accessible. A timely response to the mental health needs of youth, can prevent them from entering adulthood in crisis.

In addition, the report highlights that 43 million Americans have a mental health condition, yet 57% of American adults have not received treatment. And 1 in 5 of all screeners think about suicide nearly every day.

“This country continues to be in crisis when it comes to mental illness,” concluded Gionfriddo. “We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes—before Stage 4.”

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