Our research team dives deep into the latest national statistics and provides a unique analysis of states with the highest and lowest incidence of mental health conditions.
With the coronavirus outbreak leaving most Americans at home, this can be a particularly challenging time for Americans with mental health conditions. Isolation, temptation for substance abuse, extreme anxiety and lack of access to mental health professionals provide all the makings of a mental health crisis. Just yesterday, The head of the emergency department at a Manhattan hospital committed suicide after spending days on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, her family said.
In this article, the staff at PsydPrograms.org analyzed indicators of mental health conditions deteriorating in the country since the coronavirus outbreak as well as the states that have the most and least prevalence of mental health conditions.
Overall, we found that Idaho, Oregon, and Utah have the highest prevalence of mental health conditions in their populations, while New Jersey, Hawaii, and Texas have the lowest. We also found that Washington DC and Massachusetts had the highest reported rates of substance abuse, and Utah and Idaho had the highest rates of residents reporting suicidal thoughts.
Primarily, we analyzed 2020 data from Mental Health America, a non-profit association that measures mental health indicators via surveys and online screening tools.
So far, the data supports the view that the coronavirus outbreak will exacerbate mental health and substance abuse problems across the country. For example, a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate has been shown to increase opioid addiction by 3.5%.
Intuitively, we know that sheltering in place is a source of anxiety and stress. So far, the data indicates that our intuition is correct, severe anxiety is on the rise. The chart below shows the number of people that screened positively for severe anxiety on the Mental Health America online screening tool over the last three months:
Additionally, with social distancing, the opportunities for face-to-face treatment of mental health conditions are greatly diminished. However, we are seeing a rise in interest for online therapy sessions. Below is the Google trends data for the keyword “online therapy” over the last year:
With Americans facing increased strains on their mental health, which regions of the country are most vulnerable? In the next section, let’s examine the places that have the existing rates of mental health conditions.
The chart below shows the states with the highest and lowest percentage of adults that have some mental health condition in 2020, according to Mental Health America.
Idaho has the highest percentage of adults with a mental health condition, followed by Oregon and Utah. In Idaho, one-quarter of the population has one of the highest rates of suicide and fewer mental health resources than more populous states. New Jersey, Hawaii, Texas have the lowest rates of mental health conditions in the country. However, even in these states, 16% of the population has some mental health condition.
With most of the population stuck indoors, sales of alcohol for home consumption have skyrocketed during quarantine. This is a particularly combustible situation for those with a history of substance or alcohol abuse.
Which areas could be considered “hotspots” for substance abuse during the pandemic? The chart below shows the states with the highest (and lowest) incidence of substance abuse?
Washington DC, Massachusetts, and Vermont have the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation, with all three areas reporting over a 10% incidence rate among the adult population. According to Mental Health America, the state with the lowest reported rate of substance abuse problems is Georgia, where the incidence rate is almost half of the rate in Washington, DC.
Lastly, let’s look at data on suicide risk. During this difficult time, a federal mental health support line has seen a 891% increase in call volume. The unprecedented combination of isolation, economic devastation, and health risk is a dangerous situation for those who have had a history of suicidal risk.
The following chart shows the percentage of adult population that have reported suicidal thoughts in each state, ranked from from highest to lowest:
In Utah, 6% of adults report having suicidal thoughts according to Mental Health America. This is corroborated by CDC dating showing the state consistently has some of the highest actual suicide rates in the country. Idaho and Colorado have the second and third highest rates of adults reporting suicidal thoughts, respectively. New Jersey has the lowest rate of adults reporting suicidal thoughts, followed by Florida and Texas.
As the country deals with the immediate health problems associated with the coronavirus, we have to grapple with the mental health devastation that’s likely been unleashed due to isolation, unemployment and temptation for substance abuse. This article has shown that many indicators of mental health are showing the toll so far, and it’s likely to get worse, especially in areas with existing large scale mental health challenges.
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Published on April 19th, 2020.