Letter to the Editor: Mental health system in crisis

To the Editor:

The mental health system in the United States is currently in a state of crisis. Consider the following:

 - In 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86% of adults in the U.S. experienced a mental illness, equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans.
- Suicidal Ideation continues to increase among adults in the U.S., as 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide, an increase of 664,000 people in the past year.
- A growing percentage of youth in the U.S. live with major depression, with 15.08% of youth (ages 12-17) experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.24% increase from the prior year.
- Over half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults in the U.S. who are going untreated.
- Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.
- Nationally, less than one in three youth with severe depression receive consistent mental health care.
- Both adults and youth in the U.S. continue to lack adequate insurance coverage.
- Rates of substance abuse have been increasing for both adults and youth, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are just a few of the staggering statistics that indicate the mental health system in serious crisis. People with mental health issues are being challenged every day attempting to navigate the current mental health system. Many of them are  suffering needlessly. Add to this the stigma and discrimination that society still places on people with mental health issues and you have a mental health system in serious crisis. Over the past several decades there has been a lot of talk about fixing the mental health system, but not much in the way of action.

We need a mental health system that works for everyone. I would like to hear your opinions and thoughts on the current mental health system and what we need to do to correct these issues. I may be reached at gottahavehope38@gmail.com or by letter to 559 W. Broadway Street, Winona, MN 55987.

Mark Jacobson
Peer Support Specialist
Winona, MN 55987