April 2, 2023

Mental health treatment increased among young adults in the US.

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(CNN) — The number of American adults receiving mental health treatment grew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). in English).

Nearly 22% of adults received mental health treatment in 2021, up from about 19% in 2019.

This jump is likely due to a combination of increased need and better access to treatment, said Calliope Holingue, a psychiatric epidemiologist and member of the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 Mental Health Measurement Task Force.

“The pandemic has stimulated an important conversation about the need to take care of ourselves. We are seeing it reflected in the general population,” he said.

Overall, the CDC report found that the rise in mental health treatment was largely driven by adults under the age of 45.

Adults ages 18 to 44 were the least likely to have received mental health treatment in 2019, but became the most likely in 2021. Nearly 1 in 4 adults (more than 23%) in this age group received treatment for mental health in 2021, a jump of nearly 5 percentage points from 2019.

“This group of young adults is at a very vulnerable stage of life during the pandemic. It is the stage where disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression are at one of their highest levels throughout life,” he said. Hooligan. “So there’s this kind of natural vulnerability there, at the same time that the pandemic is happening.”

The report also found that women were consistently more likely than men to have received mental health treatment, by a difference of more than 10 percentage points each year between 2019 and 2021. In 2021, more than 1 in 4 women ( 29%) reported having received mental health treatment, compared to less than 1 in 5 men (18%).

The World Health Organization has drawn attention to a “massive” rise in anxiety and depression globally. Prevalence soared 25% in the first year of the pandemic, according to a scientific reporta finding that WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called “just the tip of the iceberg” in understanding the damage the pandemic has done to mental health globally.

“This is a wake-up call for all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting the mental health of their populations,” he said.

According to Holingue, in the US there was a “maximum increase in mental anguish” in the first months of the pandemic, amid fear, uncertainty and change. This has subsided, but with lingering effects.

Overdose deaths, for example, have continued at record levels in 2022.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated numerous social stressors that we know can increase the risk of substance use and mental illness, along with substantial changes in the supply of illicit drugs,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse,

However, he said, the rise in mental health treatment, as noted in the CDC report, “may not be a negative sign in and of itself,” as it could mean that people are getting the help they need. they need.

“For many people, drug and alcohol problems begin as self-medication for other mental health symptoms. Half of people with a substance use disorder have another mental illness at some point, and vice versa,” he said. “Hardly accessible and fragmented mental health care means these conditions and addiction often go untreated.”

Better access to telehealth has expanded treatment options, but not for everyone, Holingue said.

According to the CDC report, white people were more likely to receive mental health treatment than any other racial or ethnic group. More than 30% of whites reported receiving mental health treatment in 2021, compared to 15% of blacks, 13% of Hispanics, and 11% of Asians. Despite having the lowest rates, Asians saw one of the largest increases in mental health treatment between 2019 and 2021.

In addition to the new coronavirus, anti-Asian hate crimes and protests against police brutality and racism increased in 2020 and 2021 following the death of George Floyd. In April 2021, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky declared racism a serious public health threat.

But people of color have less access to mental health services due to issues like economic disparities and a lack of diverse providers, Holingue said.

“We’re seeing an increase in the white population, and that’s great, but we’re seeing a smaller increase in people of color. So what we need is an even larger increase in those groups to be more sure that the disparity in attention is shrinking,” he said.

Other CDC studies have shown the heavy toll the pandemic has taken on children’s mental health. Mental health-related emergency room visits increased 31% in 2020 over 2019 for teens ages 12-17. And at the beginning of 2021, suicide attempts among adolescent girls were more than 50% higher than in 2019.

The data for the new CDC report was collected by the National Center for Health Statistics as part of the National Survey of Health. People were considered to have received mental health treatment if they reported receiving counseling or therapy or taking prescription medication for anxiety, depression, concentration, behavior or other emotions in the past 12 months.

This summer, the US Department of Health and Human Services launched number 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for mental health crises.

This is a “somewhat promising” step forward, but Holingue says that mental health improvements will only gradually improve if the level of investment is not renewed.

“Although mental health services are really essential, I think at a societal level they are not enough to really protect the public’s mental health,” he says. “We need a stronger commitment from the Government at all levels to the causes of this poor mental health. Among them is the current pandemic, but also things like the housing crisis, the climate crisis, gun violence, racism, to name some”.



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