Mental Health

The State of Mental Health in the US in 2023 – My Brain’s Not Broken


Every year during Mental Health Awareness Month, I find statistics and data that help show the state of mental health in the United States. Mental illness and mental health challenges are extremely prevalent in today’s world, and diving into the data is one of the clearest ways to show that. The more we can rely on the numbers, the sooner we can stop relying on assumptions and anecdotal evidence to talk about mental health. Here’s the most recent data I could find about mental health in 2023.

One of the most important studies is from Mental Health America, which recently published results from their 2023 State of Mental Health in America survey. Some of the key findings include:

  • In 2019-2020, 20.78% of adults were experiencing a mental illness. That is equivalent to over 50 million Americans.
  • 15.35% of adults had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of them, 93.5% did not receive any form of treatment.
  • The percentage of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide is 4.84%, totaling over 12.1 million individuals. 11% of adults who identified with two or more races reported serious thoughts of suicide in 2020 – 6% higher than the average among all adults.
  • 16.39% of youth (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. 11.5% of youth (over 2.7 million youth) are experiencing severe major depression.
  • Over half (54.7%) of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 28 million individuals.
  • Almost a third (28.2%) of all adults with a mental illness reported they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. 42% of adults with Any Mental Illness (AMI) reported they were unable to receive necessary care because they could not afford it.
  • 59.8% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. 
  • In the U.S., there are an estimated 350 individuals for every one mental health provider.

Here are some other recent findings from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • 22.8% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2021 (57.8 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
  • 47.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2021 
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and the third-leading cause of death among those aged 15-24 in the U.S.
  • 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)

And here are some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • The prevalence of Any Mental Illness (AMI) was higher among females (27.2%) than males (18.1%).
  • Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of AMI (33.7%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (28.1%) and aged 50 and older (15.0%).
  • In 2021, among the 57.8 million adults with AMI, 26.5 million (47.2%) received mental health services in the past year.
  • More females with AMI (51.7%) received mental health services than males with AMI (40.0%).
  • The percentage of young adults aged 18-25 years with AMI who received mental health services (44.6%) was lower than adults with AMI aged 26-49 years (48.1%) and aged 50 and older (47.4%).

Data doesn’t tell the whole story (especially when it comes to mental health), but the picture of mental health in the U.S. become a little clearer with these numbers. Millions of people – people of all ages, too – are struggling with mental health challenges. They are trying to figure out mental illness, and even severe mental illness. And regardless of how or why it’s happening, millions of people are not getting the care they need and deserve.

We need to break down the barriers that stop people from getting the help they need. It’s easier said than done, but that starts with raising awareness and shrinking the stigma. It starts with telling people it’s okay to not be okay, and that sometimes it’s the bravest thing you can do. It’s easier said than done but if we have any chance to change these numbers, things need to be different – and it starts with us.

Now, over to you! Do the statistics and data in this post surprise you? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!

"Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn't mean you can, should, or need to do it alone." - Lisa Olivera

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2023 – My Brain’s Not Broken

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