Perceptions of Mental Health Care Improving; Access Issues Remain

A majority of U.S. residents believe that while mental health care is important, it is often costly and difficult to access, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and other groups, HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report reports.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention released the survey in conjunction with ADAA at the start of Suicide Prevention Month, which is held in September. Researchers polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults for the survey.

Survey Findings

The survey found that nearly 90% of respondents view mental and physical health as equally important. However, one-third of respondents said mental health services are inaccessible and 40% cited cost as a barrier to accessing mental health treatment.
Meanwhile, the survey found that 47% of respondents believed they have had a mental health condition, but just 38% of them reported that they had received treatment.
According to the survey, respondents younger than age 55 were more likely to have received mental health care services than those who were older. Women also were more likely to have received treatment for mental health issues than men.
Most of those who said they had received mental health treatment believed it was helpful, including:

  • 82% who underwent psychotherapy; and
  • 78% who were treated with medication.

In addition, the survey found that respondents ages 18 to 34 were more likely than older respondents to view seeking mental health treatment as a sign of strength.
Further, 86% of survey participants said they knew mental health issues like depression are risk factors for suicide. However, just 47% of respondents were aware that anxiety disorders also increase the risk of suicide. Overall, the survey found that:

  • 94% of respondents felt suicide could be prevented;
  • 93% said they would act if they knew someone close to them was considering suicide;
  • 67% said they would report having suicidal thoughts; and
  • 55% reported having been affected by suicide in some way.

Christine Moutier, CMO at AFSP, in a statement said the findings show that “[p]rogress is being made in how Americans view mental health and the important role it plays in our everyday lives”