Responding to a National Mental Health Crisis

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


With two years of the pandemic under our belts and a growing destigmatization of mental health care, the number of patients seeking help for their mental health has skyrocketed. Though mental illness has long been a concern in the United States (particularly with cases connected to depression and anxiety) reported crisis calls and case numbers have increased throughout the pandemic. The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are predicted to persist long after the pandemic itself. With so many Americans searching for aid in their struggle, how severe is this growing national mental health crisis, and what is being done to help?

The Factors

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that approximately 4 in 10 U.S. adults report symptoms of anxiety and depression, with calls to mental health hotlines and clinics continuing to rise each day. Due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, many people have been left to battle their mental illness without help from friends, family, or traditional forms of therapy. The omnipresent fear and loneliness have caused many Americans to experience a decline in their mental health and reach out for help in response.

However, the spike in outreach for mental health services cannot be credited solely to the pandemic. Increased mental health concerns have prompted a better awareness of available services, though the nation is far from prepared for this swell in calls for help.

The Stats

Across the nation, adults and teens experiencing a mental illness still do not have access to adequate mental health treatment. What does this mental health crisis look like from state to state?

  • Mental health centers in Arizona have been overwhelmed with calls following the effects of the pandemic. According to Mental Health America, the state ranks last out of the 50 states in providing widespread access to mental health services, but with more mental health clinics and hotlines opening their doors to answer the call for help, residents of Arizona will have more opportunities to receive help.
  • In Utah, suicide is the current leading cause of death among youth and young adults, placing the state at number six on the country’s age-adjusted suicide rate according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Utah’s suicide crisis hotline also saw its busiest year with a 32% increase in the total number of calls for the year, as seen in the Huntsman Mental Health Institute annual report. 4% of callers cited the pandemic as the cause behind their call. Though reports such as these indicate that residents throughout the state are struggling with mental illness now more than ever, it comes as a relief to see that people are both aware of and taking advantage of mental health services.
  • Colorado, like Utah, lists suicide as the number one cause of death for teens and young adults. Though this was a concerning statistic even before the pandemic, the mental stress of the past two years has caused an alarming spike in mental health visits for children in crisis.
  • Texas ranks extremely low in access to mental health care services, with two-thirds of the state’s counties estimated by NAMI executive director Greg Hansch to lack any psychiatric help available to the public.
  • Nevada also ranks low in access to mental health care, according to Mental Health America. As the mental health of students across the state plummets and suicide rates continue to rise, the lack of treatment and widespread access to mental health services continues to impact the welfare of those struggling with mental illness.

There is Help

As the pandemic continues to fan the flames of an already rising mental health crisis, attainable access to mental health services is vital.

At Serenity Mental Health Centers, we’ve made it our mission to respond to this national mental health crisis by providing our communities with accessible, personalized mental health treatment at our locations in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. We strive to help patients suffering from depression and anxiety to achieve long-term results by offering innovative technology and breakthrough treatments in psychiatry. You don’t have to face these challenging times alone. Take back your life from mental illness and reach out to us to schedule an appointment today.

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