The CDC defines mental health as “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
With mental health growing in relevancy, it’s essential to grasp what it entails so we can best understand how it’s impacting our world today. And in honor of mental health awareness month, I’d like to shed light on some statistics, figures, and information within the world of mental health that should be a priority for everyone.
Mental Health Treatment Gap
But first, let’s add context to these numbers by touching on the existing treatment gap within mental health. The treatment gap refers to the number of people dealing with mental illness who need treatment but aren’t able to get it for various reasons.
For reference, a study found that 28.1 million Americans (8.6% of the population) were uninsured. This includes 27.8 million (10.3%) people under the age of 65, 2.9 million (4.1%) children, and 24.9 million (12.6%) working-aged adults (aged 18-64).
Within the United States, health insurance coverage is directly linked to improved health care and health outcomes while being a major indicator of access to healthcare. And while the Affordable Care Act (ACA) worked to improve access and quality of healthcare while mitigating healthcare disparities, there’s still existing inequalities amongst race, ethnicity, age, educational attainment, employment status, and more. This background information should help you better understand some of the data points made later on in this blog. And for more details regarding demographic variation in health insurance coverage, this study should add more context.
Mental Health by Gender
Mental illness affects everyone, but we don’t all experience it the same way. And nowhere are these differences more pronounced than when analyzing the disparities in mental health between men and women.
Women’s Mental Health Statistics
APA’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology studied the common types of mental illnesses by gender and found that women with anxiety disorders were more likely to internalize their emotions, often leading to withdrawal, loneliness, and higher rates of depression. These differences in how men and women internalize and externalize their feelings partly explain the differences in prevalence rates for many mental health disorders. Keep this information in mind as you read over the following statistics.
- About twice as many women as men experience depression. Life circumstances and cultural stressors play a role in women’s higher rates of depression and tend to affect them more than men.
- Women are two to three times more likely to experience PTSD than men. This is partly because women are exposed to more high-impact trauma, like sexual trauma, at a younger age. Trauma at younger ages has a much heavier impact, particularly when it involves type 2 trauma that interferes with neurobiological development. For reference, type 2 trauma refers to “multiple, long-standing or repeated exposure to traumatic events; associated with broader psychological consequences and coping deficits.”
- Women are twice as likely to experience generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorders than men.
- About 85%-95% of people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia and 65% of those suffering from binge eating disorder are women.
- Women attempt suicide 1.5 times as often as men.
Men’s Mental Health Statistics
Men are more likely to externalize their emotions, which leads to aggressive, impulsive, and noncompliant behavior. This also manifests itself in higher rates of substance abuse and displaying more antisocial behaviors.
- Reportedly 21% of men report binge drinking, compared with 13% of women. Amongst men who binge drink, 25% tend to binge drink at least five times a month. In addition, more than three-quarters of all deaths from excessive drinking are men.
- Antisocial personality disorder is three times more common in men than women.
- 49% of men report feeling more depressed than they admit to the people in their lives. This is partly due to men being less likely to discuss their personal issues with mental illness.
- Men die by suicide 3.88 times more often than women. Factors contributing to higher rates of male suicide include social isolation, substance abuse, unemployment, military-related trauma, genetic predisposition, and mood disorders.
- 90% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia by age 30 are men. For reference, schizophrenia is one of the leading causes of disability within the United States.
Mental Health Across Different Age Groups
The rate of American adults seeking and receiving mental health care has been increasing, showing strong progress is being made. But there’s still room for improvement. As of now, 28% of adults with a mental illness report they couldn’t get the help they needed. And many of them reference affordability as a major obstacle to getting care.
American youths (aged 12-17) also face hurdles in finding treatment, as 60% of youths with major depression don’t receive any mental health treatment.
Teen Mental Health Statistics
When analyzing mental health among teens, it’s important to note the effects of COVID-19 on their day-to-day lives. More than half of teens reported experiencing emotional abuse in their home, while over 10% reported physical abuse.
Female students and LGBQ students, in particular, face high rates of poor mental health and suicide attempts. In 2021, 12% of female students, more than 25% of LGB students, and 17% of other or questioning students attempted suicide in the past year. During the same period, 5% of male students and 5% of heterosexual teens attempted suicide. Take a look at the following stats for more insight:
- From 2009 to 2019, the rate of high school students attempting suicide rose from 6.3% to 8.9%. During the same period, students experiencing persistent sadness or hopelessness rose from 26.1% to 36.7%.
- From 2008 to 2020, the rates of death from suicide among people aged 12 and over increased by 16% overall. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youths aged 10-14.
- About 1 in 7 (14%) of 10-19 year olds experience mental health conditions, they largely go unrecognized and untreated.
- 15.08% of youth (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year. And 10.6% of youth (over 2.5 million teens) cope with severe major depression. Of those teens experiencing depression, 60.3% don’t receive any mental health treatment. If left untreated, childhood depression is more likely to continue into adulthood.
College Student Health Statistics
“College is a key developmental time; the age of onset for lifetime mental health problems also directly coincides with traditional college years—75 percent of lifetime mental health problems will onset by age 24,” says Sarah K. Lipson, a Boston University School of Public Health assistant professor of health law, policy, and management.
This quote highlights the importance of mental health awareness and treatment among college aged people. The following statistics offer more information regarding the mental well-being of young adults.
- Between 2020–2021, over 60% of students met the criteria for one or more mental health issues, representing a nearly 50% increase from 2013.
- 64% of college students with mental health issues end up dropping out.
- The average length of individual treatment increased from 4.35 appointments in 2019-2020 to 5.22 in 2020-2021, an overall increase of 20%.
- Around 11% of young adults (ages 18-25) report they’ve had serious thoughts about suicide, and about 1–2% report a suicide attempt during the prior year.
- Perceived financial barriers and lack of insurance coverage (37%) and not being comfortable taking the first step in getting help (35%) were the two biggest barriers to receiving mental health support for students who rated their mental health status as fair or poor.
LGBTQ+ Mental Health Statistics
Members of the LGBTQ community may have less support than heterosexual people if they’re in an area without a significant LGBTQ population or if they’ve had to cut ties with family members. This is just one of the reasons contributing to mental health disparities amongst the LGBTQ population and why they may often feel isolated and alone.
- LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
- Transgender people who identify as African-American/black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Multiracial/Mixed Race are at increased risk of suicide attempts than their white counterparts.
- 45% of LGBTQ youth considered attempting suicide in the past year. In addition, Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide and LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers.
- Women who identify as lesbian were 8 times more likely to seek treatment or other types of help for an alcohol problem when compared to heterosexual women. Bisexual women were 4 times more likely to seek treatment for an alcohol problem. For reference, there weren’t any significant differences between straight men and sexual minority men on any of these outcomes.
- More than one in five LGBTQ+ adults (22%) are living in poverty, compared to an estimated 16% of their straight and cisgender counterparts. In addition, almost three in ten transgender adults (29%), as well as nearly three in ten bisexual women (29%), are living in poverty, substantially more than bisexual men (19.5%) and lesbian women (17.9%). With fewer resources, it may be more difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ to get the treatment they need.
- Between 11 percent and 28 percent of LGB workers report losing a promotion because of their sexual orientation, and 27 percent of transgender workers report being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to discrimination.
Veteran Mental Health Statistics
Those that have served our country are unfortunately battling a litany of issues related to their mental health, and more resources are needed to help veterans transition back to civilian life. Veterans experience mental health disorders, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury at disproportionately higher rates than civilians. Read the following statistics to learn more.
- Veteran suicide rates are at the highest level in recorded history, with annual deaths by suicide at over 6,000 veterans per year. In fact, veteran suicide rates are 1.5 times greater than non-veterans. Veterans are most vulnerable to suicide during their first year outside of the military.
- Approximately 18.5% of US service members that have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq currently have post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, and 19.5 percent report experiencing a traumatic brain injury during deployment.
- It’s estimated that about 49,933 veterans are homeless, about 12% of the entire homeless population. 51% of homeless veterans have disabilities, 50% suffer from a serious mental illness, and 70% have SUDs (substance use disorders).
- 87% of veterans reported exposure to at least 1 potentially traumatic event.
Strategies and Methods for Mental Health Improvement
These statistics may paint a picture of doom and gloom regarding mental health in this country, but the reality is improvements are being made. The percentage of adults who reported receiving any mental health treatment rose from 19.2% in 2019, to 20.3% in 2020, and to 21.6% in 2021. The rise of telehealth also makes it easier for many to access mental health treatment.
Alma also works to increase accessibility to mental health treatment by connecting clients with a platform where 96% of therapists take insurance. On average, Alma clients that use insurance save an average of 77% on therapy.
Alma currently partners with insurance providers like Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and more. Alma is dedicated to improving our nation’s mental health by working to eliminate the financial barriers to treatment. Click this link here to learn more about Alma’s platform.