Factors such as mental-health policy, socio-economic characteristics, mental-health resources and barriers to treatment are significantly associated with depression and suicide rates, according to a new mental-health ranking of states from Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association.
Using data from nine different sourcesincluding the U.S. Census, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and federal government surveysthe study used a composite indicator based on four items: the percentage of the adult population experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the past year; the percentage of the adolescent population (ages 12 to 17) experiencing at least one depressive episode in the past year; the percentage of the adult population experiencing serious psychological distress; and the average number of days in the past 30 days in which the population reported that their mental health was not good.
South Dakota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Iowa and Maryland were listed as the top five healthiest states regarding depression, while Nevada, Rhode Island, Kentucky, West Virginia and Utah were the least healthy.
It is important to note that regardless of where each state ranks, there is much room for improvement, David Shern, president and chief executive officer of Mental Health America, said in a news release about the study. While a number of factors, including biology and environment, affect an individuals mental health, this study shows that states can significantly improve their populations mental-health status by adopting policies that expand access to treatments.
The study suggested improving access to mental-health professionals; encouraging appropriate use of mental-health therapies; reducing cost and other barriers to mental-health treatment; and addressing discrimination in private and public health insurance by legislating parity in coverage between mental healthcare and general healthcare treatments. -- by Jessica Zigmond