An alarming number of people are dealing with a substance abuse or mental health problem.
The number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder nearly tripled during the pandemic, From 11.0% in 2019 to 31.6% in Fall 2021According to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on May 11 that deaths from drug overdose Increased 15 percent in 2021 to nearly 108,000 deaths.
New data released today reveals another troubling fact: 43 percent of American adults who said they needed substance abuse or mental health care in the past 12 months had not received such care, according to a national survey of more than 2,000 American adults conducted online. By The Harris Paul on behalf of the National Council on Mental Wellbeing.
So why not do more to help people overcome drug addiction and mental health challenges? As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month throughout May, we must work even harder to answer this question.
While 43 percent of U.S. adults who said they needed substance abuse or mental health care in the past 12 months did not receive such care, only 21 percent of those who needed primary care did not receive it, according to data from new report, 2022 Access to Care Survey.
There is no health without mental health, and we have to remove the barriers to accessing it.
The majority of adults in the United States who required care indicated difficulties in obtaining it, including those who did. Primary barriers to access for people whose drug use or mental health challenges have not been met over the past 12 months include cost-related issues (no insurance, out-of-pocket costs, 31 percent and 37 percent, respectively) , the inability to find a suitable caregiver (22 percent and 28 percent, respectively) and the inability to get an appointment right away when they need care (31 percent and 25 percent, respectively).
Those who received substance abuse or mental health care over the past 12 months also reported difficulties accessing this care:
- 81 percent of American adults who received substance abuse care had difficulty obtaining care.
- 67 percent of American adults who received mental health care had difficulties accessing care.
The survey also found that nearly 3 in 5 adults in the United States think it is easier (59 percent) and faster (59 percent) to obtain substance abuse or mental health care if you pay out of pocket for using insurance. of US adults would be more likely to use drugs or mental health care if they could get it through their primary care physician, if they needed it, and 67 percent believe it is more difficult to find a mental health care provider than finding a physical health care provider .
So what can we do? Our will to correct these issues and help people find the care they need and deserve must be stronger than the challenges we face. We cannot be mentally good and actively thrive if we do not have access to services.
The industry is having difficulty meeting the need for treatment in communities across the country due to a shortage of mental health and substance abuse professionals. Societies need more substance use and mental health professionals. A shortage of psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, social workers, case managers, and more limits the ability to provide care.
Bipartisan Mental Health Access Improvement Act passed (p 828/RB 432) would allow marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors to receive reimbursement from Medicare for their services. Pass the Promoting Effective and Empowering Recovery Services (PEERS) Act in Medicare Act (p 2144/HR 2767) would allow peer support professionals to participate in the provision of integrated mental health services, coordinated care by both primary and behavioral health physicians, to Medicare beneficiaries.
We can also permanently lift restrictions on telehealth. During the pandemic, many organizations have rapidly transitioned from in-person services to telehealth and technology-enabled services, and this increased use of technology is expected to continue.
We can continue to invest in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) by passing the Excellence Act (p 2069/RB 4323). CCBHCs provide a full range of services and support, integrated with primary care and coordination with other social service providers, reducing wait times, expanding states’ capacity to address the overdose crisis and forging innovative partnerships with law enforcement, schools and hospitals to improve care, reduce recidivism and prevent readmission to the hospital.
Finally, stigma is a major barrier. We must overcome the fear and discrimination that often prevents people from seeking treatment. Acknowledging the need for treatment offers hope that mental well-being—regardless of mental health or substance abuse problem—is within reach.
The opportunity for health and well-being is beyond the reach of many people. But we have many opportunities to improve care for those with substance abuse and mental health challenges. As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take advantage of these opportunities.
Our mental health depends on it.
Chuck Ingolia is the President and CEO of National Council for Mental Wellbeing.