“Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy,” says Weissman. “Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year.”
8.3 million Americans — more than the population of 37 states — live with severe mental health issues
Millions of Americans — enough to fill up the entirety of New York City and outnumber most states’ populations — are struggling with a bottomless sense of despair, worthlessness, and exhaustion, according to a new study published on Monday in Psychiatric Services. But their ability to get needed mental health care has only gotten worse over the last ten years, even with the passing of the Affordable Care Act.
Researchers pored through data from the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative, extensive canvass of Americans’ lifestyle habits, looking at the years 2006 to 2014. They estimated that, as of 2014, 8.3 million Americans, or 3.4% of the total U.S. population, were suffering from serious psychological distress, the catch-all term for mental health ills that are serious enough to affect someone’s physical well-being. In 2006, that same figure hovered around 3 percent.
Moreover, they found that 9.5 percent of these Americans lacked the health insurance needed to afford therapy or psychiatric care in 2014, a slight uptick from the 9 percent recorded in 2006. And a similar trend was seen with people who said they faced delays in getting treatment because of their lackluster mental health coverage.