Fact-check team: Depression rates in the US hit an all-time high

A new Gallup poll found that 17.8% of Americans have depression or are currently being treated for it. That’s about seven points more since 2015, when Gallup first started collecting data.

Meanwhile, 29% of Americans say they have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives — a 10-point increase.

Both are the highest rates recorded.

This supports data from the CDC showing that more than one in five adults are living with a mental illness.

Rates among women, young adults, and black and Hispanic adults are rising the fastest. The research found that these groups were more likely to lose or quit their jobs during the pandemic. On the other hand, young adults are more likely to be single and report loneliness, especially during the pandemic, and require more social time than older adults.

Factors such as social isolation, loneliness, psychological exhaustion, mental health disruptions, and increased substance use or abuse during the pandemic are all likely to have played a role in the increase.

The global rates are also quite alarming. Nearly 40% of people over the age of 15 have severe depression or anxiety, or have a close friend or family member who does.

According to Mental Health America, 54.7% of adults with mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling more than 28 million Americans.

Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to provide the resources and labor for people dealing with depression and mental illness. This is highlighted by the fact that nearly one in five children experience a mental health problem, but only about 20% receive care, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

According to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. is short of 8,244 mental health practitioners and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47% of the U.S. population was living with a mental health workforce shortage by 2022.

This goes beyond mental health, the US has a broader health problem. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that the US will face a shortage of up to 124,000 doctors by 2034. This forecast is largely based on projected population growth. The US Census Bureau estimates that the population will rise to 363 million by 2034, up from 334 million today. About two-thirds of that growth is estimated to be people age 65 or older who will require more medical care as they age.

There are multiple proposals on Capitol Hill addressing the health care workforce shortage, but looking to the executive branch, the U.S. Department of Human Services (HHS) announced that about $25 million would be used to expand primary health care, including mental health care in schools. To receive school funding, applicants must add or expand mental health services.

If you or someone you know has mental health problems, there are several resources available to find more information or get help. Check out the list below:

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or call 911.

  • Mental Health America
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • FindTreatment.gov
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (Call or text 988)
  • American Psychiatric Association Response Center: 1-888-357-7924
  • American Psychological Association of Public Education: 1-800-964-2000
Fact-check team: Depression rates in the US hit an all-time high

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