Survey Reveals Huge Gap in Coverage for Mental Health Services

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Modern America has made a concentrated effort in bringing to light the need for mental health services while at the same time trying to de-stigmatize this type of care, though a recent report indicates we still have some ways to go. 

According to results from a recent online survey from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, there is a considerable gap between the number of Americans that need care for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions and those that can receive it. 

According to the data, 42% of U.S. adults could not get the mental health care they needed in the previous 12 months due to cost and other barriers. Substance abuse service needs also accounted for one-quarter of the responses. 

According to Chuck Ingoglia, CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, these findings aren’t surprising. He states: “We’re in an environment where there is increased attention to these issues at the federal level and state level, there have been efforts to require insurance companies to provide adequate coverage for behavioral health conditions, and yet it still is a challenge for individuals, and that’s a real shame.”

The nationwide survey – Access to Care –  was conducted in May by The Harris Poll and included 2,052 Americans. The primary barriers included availability, cost, lack of diversity, wait times, and proximity to care. 

Additional insights garnered from the survey indicate that access to mental health services will only worsen without intervention. Nearly 40% of participants noted that expenses had prevented them from getting care, whether it was out-of-pocket or through insurance. Additionally, 28% of respondents stated finding care was difficult, and it is believed that COVID-19 played a hand in upending a lot of these services due to provider shortages and the Great Resignation. 

Many of these issues – such as inadequate care and barriers to access – have been a known, ongoing issue. 

Improvements need to be made in behavioral health, especially for older adults. According to StatePoint Media, behavioral health disorders affect one in five adults over 55. Dementia is the most common behavioral health disorder, with experts projecting that more than 9 million Americans age 65 or older will have this condition by 2030. Additionally, due to mental health disorders, older men have the highest suicide rate of any age group or gender. Among men who are 75 and older, the suicide rate is 40.2 per 100,000 – almost triple the overall rate. 

For information on self-care tips on how older adults can deal with behavioral issues, read “Behavioral health pointers for older adults.”

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