As the month of May – Mental Health Awareness Month – draws to a close, the alarming data highlighted in media reports and on the websites of mental health organizations are worth keeping top of mind. The imperative to respond has not diminished, as the numbers vividly remind us.
Among the data points that represent individuals, families and communities that continue to face an everpresent life and death struggle:
· Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020), according to the National Institute for Mental Health.
· Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of Any Mental Illness (30.6%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (25.3%) and aged 50 and older (14.5%).
· In 2019, 13 percent of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode, a 60 percent increase from 200.
· For people ages 10 to 24, suicide rates, stable from 2000 to 2007, leaped nearly 60 percent by 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
· Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2019, claiming the lives of over 47,500 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
· There were nearly two and a half times as many suicides (47,511) in the United States as there were homicides (19,141) in 2019.
· From 1991 to 2017, suicide attempts by Black adolescents rose 73 percent, compared with an 18 percent rise among white adolescents.
· The suicide rate leaped particularly for Black girls, up 6.6 percent per year on average from 2003 to 2017.
· Percent of adults with mental illness who did not receive any mental health treatment: 56% Number of adults with mental illness who did not receive any mental health treatment: 27 million.
· Percent of youth with severe depression who received some consistent treatment: 27.2%. Number of youth with severe depression who received some consistent treatment: 661,000.
· Number of US Adults with Mental Illness who are Uninsured: 5.5 million. Number of youth with private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional problems: 950,000.
· Among youth aged 12–17 in Connecticut during 2015–2019 with an Major Depressive Episode in the past year, an annual average of 44.2% (or 16,000) received depression care in the past year, similar to both the regional average (48.5%) and the national average (41.4%), according to a national report by SAMHSA.
· More than a quarter of adults who experienced serious psychological distress in the previous year in the U.S. reported an unmet need for mental health care. Almost half of the people with a perceived unmet need reported that they did not receive treatment because they could not afford it.
Among the organizations in the field here in Connecticut is Mental Health Connecticut, committed to educating people about mental illness and mental wellness through community forums, workshops, materials, and events; advocating for improved, expanded and accessible mental health services; and offering a variety of programs and services to promote recovery for people with mental illnesses in our communities. www.mhconn.org
A recent series on WTNH News8 highlighted aspects of the challenges in COnnecticut; watch the program segments, Mental Health Matters, here.