Editorial: There is a mental health crisis in America

Mitchell Roland, News Editor

Over the past year, there has been a drastic and concerning rise in people reporting mental health issues in America.

According to a study published by Boston University, half of all college students screened positive for either depression or anxiety in the fall of 2020. The same study found that 66% of college students say they are struggling with loneliness and isolation.

Struggles with mental health are impacting work in the classroom. The Boston University study found 83% of students say their academic performance has been impacted by their mental health in the past month.

This mental health crisis isn’t just impacting students. A study by the U.S. Census Bureau in December shows that 42% of adults reported symptoms of depression or anxiety. This is up from the 11% that the census bureau found in previous years. One in five adults in America experiences some type of mental illness each year.

These statistics have very real consequences. According to Health and Human Services, 12% of students experience suicide ideation during college. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between 10 and 34 years old.

And while many people struggle with their mental health, the reality is it often goes untreated. One of the reasons for this is the costs.

In 2019, Americans spent $225 billion on mental health treatment. This has risen by 52% over a decade. According to CNBC, an hour-long session with a therapist can cost anywhere between $65 to $250. On average, a patient with major depression spends $10,836 a year on treatment.

Simply put, it is incredibly expensive to seek medical attention for mental illness.

Another reason that mental health is often ignored is stigma. Like any other condition, mental illness should be treated by a medical professional. However, over half of all people with mental illness do not receive treatment.

There are things that you can do in your day-to-day life to improve your mental health. Among the things the University of Michigan recommends are drinking plenty of water, exercise and avoiding alcohol or other controlled substances. They also recommend asking for help when it’s needed.

Beyond the individual changes, there needs to be a shift in how society views mental health. It can no longer be an afterthought, and it can no longer be ignored.

We need to destigmatize mental health and stop viewing those who struggle with their mental wellbeing as weak. And we must make adequate, affordable mental health a priority in this country.