The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn are taking a toll on mental health for many Americans, with large shares of the public saying that related worry and stress is having a negative effect on their mental health.
A KFF analysis and series of state fact sheets examine mental health and substance use disorder needs in the states and capacity to meet residents’ needs prior to the pandemic, which is expected to place additional strains on the system. Average weekly data for June 2020 found that 36.5% of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 11.0% in 2019. Louisiana (42.9%), Florida (41.5%) and Oregon (41.3%) have the highest shares reporting such symptoms, while Wisconsin (27.2%), Minnesota (30.5%) and Nebraska (30.6%) have the lowest.
The analysis highlights the wide range of needs and resources across states. For example:
- The share of adults with any diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder ranged from a high of 25.3% in Utah to a low of 16.1% in New Jersey in 2017-2018. Utah also has the highest prevalence of adults with serious mental illness (6.4%), while New Jersey has the lowest (3.6%).
- Nationally, more than a third (34.3%) of adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. This includes about half of those in Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia, and less than a quarter of those living in Tennessee, Vermont, South Dakota and Washington State.
- Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and has increased in almost every state over time. Age-adjusted suicide rates are about three times as high in New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming as they are in the New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
- Deaths due to drug overdose increased nearly fourfold nationally from 1999 to 2018. West Virginia and Delaware have the highest age-adjusted overdose death rates – more than five times the rate in South Dakota and Nebraska, which have the lowest rates.
The state fact sheets compile key information on mental illness prevalence; substance abuse and related deaths; suicide; mental health workforce; unmet need and barriers to care; private insurance coverage and costs; and Medicaid benefits.
They are designed to allow policymakers, health care professionals, patient groups and journalists to quickly assess the mental health and substance use landscape in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The fact sheets draw on dozens of indicators in KFF’s State Health Facts data collection related to mental health and substance use disorder. The data collection allows quick comparisons across states and allows for the creation of custom reports for select states and indicators.
This work was supported in part by Well Being Trust. We value our funders. KFF maintains full editorial control over all of its policy analysis, polling and journalism activities.
Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.