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Americans still lack access to mental healthcare

October 27, 2016
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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Even as the rates of uninsured Americans drop, more than half of U.S. adults with mental illness in 2014 did not receive treatment, per a study published this month by Mental Health America (MHA).

Mental health and access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were measured in 15 categories in MHA’s third annual State of Mental Health in America Report. In order of ranking, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, South Dakota and Minnesota comprised the top five overall states in terms of low prevalence of mental illness and high rates of access to care. Nevada ranked lowest (high rate of mental illness/low access to care), followed by Arizona, Oregon, Idaho and Arkansas.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • 56.5% of U.S. adults with mental illness did not receive treatment, down slightly from 59% in 2011. At 43.1%, Vermont had the lowest rate of adults not receiving treatment of any state in the U.S., while Nevada (67.5%) had the highest.
  • States with the lowest workforce have just one mental health professional—a classification that includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatric nurses—per 1,000 individuals. The national rate is one mental healthcare provider per 529 individuals.

Also of note: an apparent correlation between access to mental healthcare and incarceration rates. Of the 10 states with the least access to mental health services, six also appear in the top 10 for highest incarceration rates. The states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and Florida.

The full State of Mental Health in America Report is available on the MHA website.