Which states have higher barriers to accessing mental health care?

Introduction

Mental illness is a major issue in the United States, and it’s estimated that more than 50 million Americans experience mental health problems every year. One of the most common barriers to accessing mental health treatment is not having adequate insurance coverage for mental health services. But which states have higher barriers to accessing mental health care? In this post, we’ll look at data on three different factors that can affect access to mental health treatment: state spending per capita on behavioral health programs; the prevalence of depression among adults aged 18 and over; and the prevalence of substance use disorders among individuals aged 12 and older.

Mental illness is the third leading cause of disability in the U.S.

While you may think of mental illness as something you can’t “see,” it’s quite common. Mental illness is the third leading cause of disability in the U.S., according to a 2016 report from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

“It has been estimated that one in six adults in America experiences some form of mental illness and one in 25 lives with a serious mental illness,” says the NIMH website.”

In other words, if you live in America and have been around other people at all during your lifetime, chances are someone close to you has either had or will experience a mental disorder at some point.

In 2017, more than 18% of adults experienced a mental illness, with 8.5% experiencing a serious mental illness that impairs life functioning.

You may not recognize mental illness as a significant issue, but it affects millions of people in the United States each year. More than 18% of adults experienced a mental illness in 2017 and 8.5% experienced a serious mental illness that impairs life functioning. Mental illness is especially prevalent among those between the ages of 15 and 44 — it’s the leading cause of disability for this group.

Although both men and women experience mental health problems at roughly equal rates, women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders (10% versus 5%). Women are also more likely than men to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects 8% of them compared with just 3% of males who report having PTSD symptoms and needing treatment within the last month

Only 50% of individuals who have a mental illness receive treatment in any given year.

You might be surprised to learn that only 50% of individuals who have a mental illness receive treatment in any given year. In other words, half of the people with mental health issues don’t seek treatment. That’s not due to lack of availability or affordability; rather, it’s because they don’t feel the need for services or feel embarrassed about seeking them out.

So if you’re one of those people who doesn’t think they need to see a professional for your problems—or aren’t even aware that you could benefit from doing so—it may be helpful for me to explain what exactly “mental health” means and why it’s so important.

30 states have barriers to accessing care that is statistically significantly higher than the national average.

Of the 30 states with statistically significantly higher barriers, three have a barrier of 80% or higher: New York, California, and Nevada. All of the top five states with the highest barriers to accessing care (New York, California, Nevada, and Florida) are on the Northeast or West Coast.

According to this study’s estimates, only one state—Alaska—has a barrier to accessing care below 40%.

20 states have barriers to access that are statistically lower than or similar to the national average.

You may be surprised to learn that some of the most populous states in America have lower barriers to accessing mental health care than the national average. These states include Hawaii, Vermont, North Dakota, and Alaska. Additionally, Maine and Montana also fall into this category. It’s important to note that these five states are all located in the Northeast or Midwest regions of the country.

However not all Northeastern and Midwestern states have lower barriers to accessing mental health care; some do have higher than average rates of these issues. Idaho is an example of a state whose barrier level is statistically higher than other areas in America (as shown below).

State rankings were determined by analyzing the following data sets:

According to the analysis, states that ranked highest in terms of barriers to accessing mental health care were:

  • Alabama (#1)
  • Mississippi (#2)
  • Louisiana (#3)

States with lower levels of barriers were:

  • District of Columbia (#8)
  • Delaware (#9)
  • North Dakota (10th)

1) The 2017 – 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data set;

  • The 2017 – 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data set is the most recent comprehensive survey of substance use and mental health in the U.S., and it includes data from all 50 states.
  • NSDUH is the nation’s largest and most important source of information on substance use, mental health, and other health-related behaviors among people aged 12 or older in the United States.

2) The years 2013 — 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data set; and

As a starting point, we looked at the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. BRFSS is a telephone survey of adults aged 18 and older. The survey asks questions related to health behaviors, chronic conditions, and health care use. For this analysis, we used data from 2013—2016 to determine the percentage of adults who reported having a mental illness in the past 12 months.

3) The 2015 — 2018 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Compare data set.

The 2015-2018 CMS Physician Compare data set is the largest single source of information on physician quality. It includes more than 1,400 specialties and over 880,000 physicians in the U.S., representing about 90% of all Medicare fee-for-service payments in 2018.

Conclusion

For more information on this data set and how it was analyzed, check out our methodology section below.

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