Mental health is one of the most prominent issues we face as a population in the United States and around the world. It affects people of all ages, genders, education levels, incomes and walks of life. Data shows that nearly one in five American adults suffers from a mental health disorder. Depression, anxiety and panic disorders are some of the most common.
The month of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, a period of time to educate people about the importance of mental health and the resources available on a national and local scale. Statistically, spring is the most challenging and dangerous season for people who suffer from mental health disorders.
As time progresses, the stigma around mental health has improved and access to treatment has expanded. Nevertheless, it’s still important to stay informed about how mental health can impact yourself and the emotional wellbeing of your loved ones.
Key mental health statistics
Living with a mental health disorder can feel isolating, but statistics show that people who experience mental distress are not alone. Here are some figures about mental health, who it affects and how many people receive treatment:
- Over 50% of Americans living with a mental illness do not receive treatment for their disorder, leaving more than 27 million people without mental health care.
- More than 60% of kids and young adults with major depression do not receive treatment. Even in states with good access to mental health care, almost one in three children do not get professional help.
- The rate of substance abuse is increasing among adolescents and adults. An estimated 7.74% of adults and 4.08% of youth have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.
- More than 8% of kids with private health insurance do not have coverage for mental health treatment.
- Over 11% of Americans who suffer from a mental health disorder are uninsured. 2022 is the second consecutive year that this rate has increased since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed.
- In the last year alone, more than 15% of youth experienced a major depressive episode.
- White youth suffering from depression are the most likely to receive treatment. Asian youth are the least likely to receive treatment for their disorder.
- Anxiety was the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting roughly 40 million people nationwide.
- Although anxiety disorders are treatable, less than 40% of people who suffer actually receive treatment from a mental health professional.
- For people who suffer from one mental health condition, it’s common to develop a second disorder. For example, many people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder also experience depression.
- Almost one in five adults suffers from a mental illness.
- Females are more likely than males to experience mental health disorders. Roughly 25.8% of women experience any mental illness (AMI), whereas 15.8% of men experience AMI.
- Young adults between the ages of 18-25 have the highest rates of AMI compared to adults aged 26-49 years old and individuals over 50.
- Mood disorders are the most common reason for hospitalization in the United States for people under age 45 (excluding maternity care).
- An estimated 15.3% of United States veterans experienced a mental illness in 2019, which equates to roughly 31.3 million people.
- Each year, 47.4% of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual suffer from mental health disorders.
- High school students with severe depression symptoms are more than twice as likely to drop out, compared to their peers who do not suffer from depression.
- About 17.3% of non-Hispanic black or African Americans are diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year. Only 37.1% of people in this demographic receive treatment.
Accessibility of mental health treatment by state
The availability of mental health treatment is expanding across the country. However, access to treatment is better in some states than others. To identify which states have the best and worst access to mental health treatment and insurance, MHA put together a unique rating system using 2022 data (these rankings are subject to change).
To calculate these scores, MHA considered some of the following criteria for each state (not an exhaustive list):
- Number of adults with a mental illness who did not receive treatment or whose insurance did not cover their treatment.
- Number of mental health professionals working in the state.
- Number of kids with major depressive episode(s) who did not receive treatment.
- Number of kids with severe major depressive episode(s) who received consistent treatment.
States with the least access to mental health treatment
|Rank (least access)||State|
States with the most access to mental health treatment
|Rank (most access)||State|
Pervasiveness of mental health issues by state
When it comes to research and data collection, mental health rates can be quantified in different ways. For example, some studies only count people who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder by a professional. Others include people who self-report having a mental health condition.
Regardless of the data collection method, figures show that some states have higher rates of mental health disorders than others. To identify the states at the top and bottom of the list, MHA used the following criteria based on data from the last year (not an exhaustive list):
- Number of adults with a mental illness and/or a substance use disorder.
- Number of kids with one or more major depressive episodes and/or substance use disorder.
States with the highest prevalence of mental health disorders
|Rank (highest prevalence)||State|
The table below highlights the states with the lowest prevalence of mental health conditions. However, keep in mind that states with lower access to mental health treatment, such as Texas and Georgia, may correlate with a lower prevalence of mental health issues, due to fewer reported cases.
States with the lowest prevalence of mental health disorders
|Rank (lowest prevalence)||State|
Life insurance and mental health
Mental health disorders come in many different forms. However, NAMI defines a mental illness as a condition that “affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.” Mental health conditions also severely impact a person’s ability to function on a daily basis, perform normal activities and relate to others.
When it comes to life insurance and mental health, having a mental disorder does not automatically disqualify you from getting coverage, even though it’s considered a pre-existing condition. During the underwriting process, the insurance company will use your mental health history to determine how much coverage you can get and how much your premium will cost.
If you have a mental health condition, here are some of the specific factors that the underwriter will look at when you apply for life insurance:
- Your age
- Your gender
- Whether you have been hospitalized for your disorder
- When you were diagnosed
- How severe your condition is
- How well you follow your treatment plan (if applicable)
- The frequency of your episodes
- What medications you take
- Comorbid disorders (i.e. suffering from anxiety and depression together)
- Alcohol and tobacco use
When applying for life insurance, it’s important to be truthful about your health history. Lying on your life insurance application is fraud and your application can be denied if you get caught. Even if you don’t get caught while applying, your death benefit may not be paid out if it’s determined you lied on your application.
There are dozens of life insurance companies out there, and they each have pros and cons. Before you buy a policy, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare some of the best life insurance providers.
Frequently asked questions
Mental health resources state by state
There are countless national mental health resources that can be beneficial if you are looking for support. There are also state resources that can help you get connected with local treatment providers, community groups, educational resources and mental health hotlines.
In the tables below, we used rankings data from MHA and put each state into a category, based on its prevalence of mental health disorders and access to care. The states are ranked from best to worst in terms of overall quality of life for people who experience mental health disorders.
If you’re wondering how to get mental health help in your state, these resources can help.