You may have heard in recent months, if not years, that the United States is in a mental health crisis. And whether or not the word “crisis” is apt (it is), we are certainly experiencing an uptick in mental health issues and concerns. The White House reported in March of this year that 2 in 5 adults report experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, with several subpopulations harder hit than others. The number of adolescent girls, for example, who have been to the ER following attempted suicide has increased 51% since 2009.
The causes of this ongoing increase are wide ranging and not fully flushed out, though many point to the COVID-19 pandemic and social media as two major catalysts. Regardless, one thing is certain, as a country, we are not equipped to handle the rising need for mental health treatment. Access to mental health care in terms of affordability/insurance coverage, location, virtual availability, and practicing practitioners is overwhelmingly limited. Slate published a piece this week about call centers unable to staff the Mental Health Crisis Line, for instance.
Without mental health care actions taken to address mental health will be stymied before they start. We must work to find meaningful ways to make treatment available to all who want and need it.