Mental Health Services In The U.S. Could Fall Far Behind Without Reform

In 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14% of the world’s adolescents – were living with a mental disorder.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide accounted for more than 1 in 100 deaths, while 58% of suicides occurred before age 50.

Mental disorders are currently the leading cause of disability, causing 1 in 6 years lived with disability. People with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, mostly due to preventable physical diseases.

People with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than others.
People with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than others without the same issues.

Depression and anxiety went up by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic alone, the WHO reports.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, just a small fraction of people in need had access to effective, affordable and quality mental health care. The WHO maintains that at least 71% of those with psychosis worldwide do not receive mental health services. While 70% of people with psychosis are reported to be treated in high-income countries, only 12% of people with psychosis receive mental health care in low-income countries.

In 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14% of the world’s adolescents – were living with a mental disorder.
In 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14% of the world’s adolescents – were living with a mental disorder.

Even in high-income countries, only one third of people with depression receive formal mental health care, while minimally-adequate treatment for depression is estimated to range from 23% in high-income countries to 3% in low- and lower-middle-income countries, Mental Health America, reports.

The work of health care providers in the U.S. has been deeply impacted by the pandemic, the American Hospital Association (AHA) reports, and quality care has emerged as an even greater challenge than in previous years, especially because of a lack of funding and the negative stigmas attached to mental health.

Suicide accounted for more than 1 in 100 deaths in 2019, while 58% of suicides occurred before age 50.
Suicide accounted for more than 1 in 100 deaths in 2019, while 58% of suicides occurred before age 50.

More than 100 million Americans live in areas with shortages of psychiatrists, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects shortages of psychiatrists and addiction counselors to persist through 2030, while many hospitals have been forced to decrease the size of their behavioral health workforce because of budget cuts, the AHA reports.

Another study on the experiences of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 93% reported experiencing stress, 86% reported anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, worry and stress have led to sleep disturbances, headaches or stomachaches, and increased alcohol or drug use.

More than 100 million Americans live in areas with shortages of psychiatrists.
More than 100 million Americans live in areas with shortages of psychiatrists.

The Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S.4170) addresses COVID-19’s devastating impact on the national mental health crisis, especially among children, by building upon the 2016 legislation to improve and expand those programs.

“This bill simply could not come at a more critical moment. These resources would markedly enhance the capacities of behavioral health systems and providers to provide the high quality care that people need and deserve, including crisis services and programs that integrate mental health, substance use and physical needs, and to attract, support and retain the workforce necessary to do so,” said Michael Flaum, MD, President, American Association for Community Psychiatry.

Sign the petition and take a stand for the mental health of all Americans!
Sign the petition and take a stand for the mental health of all Americans!

“Suicide can be prevented, and we know that intervention and prevention programs are necessary to save lives,” said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “The bipartisan Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 would support the needs of children, adolescents and adults with or at risk of a serious mental health condition or experiencing a suicidal crisis, and AFSP applauds Senators Murphy and Cassidy for collaborative policy making to renew and expand integral mental health programs, and to strengthen parity enforcement.”

This legislation would strengthen existing mental health and substance use disorder parity laws, improve community mental health services, expand access to pediatric mental health care, increase recruitment of a diverse mental health workforce, and provide a path to recovery for vulnerable individuals.

Sign the petition in support of the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 and support mental health for all!

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