About 22% of adults received mental health treatment in 2021, up from about 19% in 2019.
Calliope Holingue, a psychiatric epidemiologist and member of the COVID-19 Mental Health Measurements Working Group at Johns Hopkins University, said the surge is likely due to a combination of increased need for treatment and better access. says.
“The pandemic has spurred an important conversation about the need to take care of ourselves, and we’re seeing that reflected across the population,” she said.
Overall, the CDC report found that the increase in mental health treatment was primarily by adults under the age of 45.
Adults aged 18 to 44 were least likely to seek mental health treatment in 2019, but most likely in 2021. Up nearly 5 percentage points from 2019.
“This group of young adults is facing the pandemic at a very vulnerable life stage, the stage where disorders such as anxiety and depression have the highest levels throughout the life course,” Holinge said. I’m here. “So we have this kind of natural vulnerability at the same time that we have a pandemic going on.”
The report also found that women were consistently more likely to receive mental health treatment than men, with a difference of more than 10% each year from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, more than one in four women (29%) reported that less than one in five men (18%) were receiving mental health treatment.
“This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and better support the mental health of their citizens,” he said.
Especially in the United States, Holling said there was a “peak increase in emotional distress” in the early months of the pandemic amid fear, uncertainty and change. It tapers off, but has a lingering effect.
For example, drug overdose deaths remain at record highs well into 2022.
Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said:
But an increase in mental health treatments “may not be a negative signal in and of itself,” she said, as the CDC report puts it.
“For many people, drug and alcohol problems begin as self-medication for other mental health symptoms. There is also,” she said. “Fragmented and difficult-to-access mental health care means that these conditions and addictions often go untreated.”
Improved access to telehealth has expanded treatment options, but not for everyone, says Holingue.
Whites were consistently more likely to receive mental health treatment than any other racial or ethnic group, according to a CDC report. 15% were black, 13% were Hispanic, and 11% were Asian. Between 2019 and 2021, people in Asia had the largest increase in mental health treatment, even though they had the lowest percentage.
In addition to coronavirus, 2020 and 2021 saw an increase in protests against anti-Asian hate crimes and police brutality and racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd.April 2021 , CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has declared racism to be a serious public health threat.
However, people of color have difficulty accessing mental health services due to economic inequality and a lack of diverse health care providers, Holling said.
“It’s great that the white population is increasing, but the increase for people of color is marginal. So what we need is an even bigger increase in those groups.” The gap is narrowing,” she said.
Data for the new CDC report were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics as part of the National Health Interview Survey. Individuals who report receiving counseling or treatment, or taking prescription medications for anxiety, depression, concentration, behavior, or other emotions in the past 12 months are considered to have received mental health treatment. was made.
This summer, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Mental Health Crises.
While this is “somewhat promising” progress, Halling said, unless new levels of investment are made, improvements in mental health will only be gradual.
“Mental health services are very important, but at the societal level, I don’t think they are enough to truly protect the mental health of the public.” We need to be more involved, not just in the ongoing pandemic, but in the housing crisis, the climate crisis, gun violence, racism, and more.”