California Mental Health: A Troubling 2022 Report

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A beach sets the tone of serenity for the California mental health report for 2022.
September 28, 2022

California mental health on the whole is holding relatively steady, according to a recent report, but there are some troubling trends both persisting and developing. Recently, the California Health Care Foundation released the 2022 Edition – Mental Health in California statistical review. We’re going to feature some of the more interesting and perhaps troubling statistical trends uncovered below.

It’s always a good idea to take stock in the current state of overall mental health in a society. Doing so can help those who can make a difference take steps to respond to things that need attention. Our team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered always does what we can to raise awareness with regards to mental health issues that can affect any of us. We hope that our look at the state of California mental health prompts people take steps to get the help they need.

Important California Mental Health Statistics

Part of the California mental health publication is the almanac, and we’re going to provide some details on the statistics that it revealed. These statistics were published in the most recent edition, but they were recorded in 2019. The most obvious place to begin involves the overall number of adults who suffer from mental health problems in California.

According to the almanac, 3.9 percent of adults in California suffer from what is termed “serious” mental illness. That equates to more than 960,000 people, or nearly the entire population of San Jose, which is the third largest city in all of California with 983,000 people as of 2020.

In addition, a total of 14.4 percent of California adults suffer from what was termed “any” mental illness. That equates to more than 3,545,000 people, or only 300,000 fewer than the population of California’s largest city, Los Angeles.

On an overall level, California mental health is a widespread problem.

Broken down by region, the following percentages of adults suffered from serious mental illnesses in 2019:

  • Northern and Sierra – 4.9 percent
  • San Joaquin Valley – 4.8 percent
  • Inland Empire – 4.2 percent
  • Sacramento Area – 3.9 percent
  • Central Coast – 3.8 percent
  • Los Angeles Area – 3.8 percent
  • San Diego Area – 3.8 percent
  • Orange County – 3.2 percent
  • Bay Area – 2.9 percent

California Mental Health Illnesses by Gender and Age Group

Sharper differences were present with regards to California mental health challenges when looking at gender and age group. According to the almanac, 3.4 percent of adult males suffered from a serious mental illness in California in 2019. For females, the percentage was at 4.4 percent, which is a difference of nearly 250,000 people.

The breakdown by age group presented an even starker contrast. Below are the percentages of people suffering from serious mental illness within the corresponding age groups:

  • 18-20 – 1.9 percent
  • 21-24 – 4.1 percent
  • 25-34 – 5.4 percent
  • 35-44 – 5.9 percent
  • 45-54 – 4.8 percent
  • 55-64 – 2.8 percent
  • 65 and over – 1.3 percent

Clearly, middle age is a time when California mental health seems to present its toughest challenges to the highest number of people.

California Mental Health Broken Down by Income

Perhaps the most distinct difference with regards to statistical mental health breakdowns occurs within income levels. Below is that breakdown of percentages of California adults suffering from serious mental illnesses based on the federal poverty line as the line of demarcation for income:

  • Below the federal poverty line: 8.5 percent
  • 100-199% of the federal poverty line: 6 percent
  • 200-299% of the federal poverty line: 3.5 percent
  • 300+% of the federal poverty line: 1.9 percent

It seems quite clear that the lower the income, the higher the prevalence of California mental health problems.

California Mental Health Challenges: Annual Trends

Another data point looked closely at the yearly rates of adults in California who had suffered from what are known as MDEs, or Major Depressive Episodes. Those percentages listed with their corresponding years are as follows:

  • 2015-16 – 6.0 percent
  • 2016-17 – 6.5 percent
  • 2017-18 – 6.7 percent
  • 2018-19 – 7.2 percent

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of adults in California suffering from MDEs within a given year was on the rise. The same slow rise was present in national statistics, but each year, California came in slightly below the percentages of MDEs in the United States overall.

Lack of California Mental Health Treatment

Finally, something that should be troubling to anyone is the percentage of people who need California mental health treatment but do not get it. According to the almanac, between the years of 2017 and 2019, only 36.8 percent of people in the state who suffered from a mental illness received treatment of any kind. By result, that means that 63.2 percent of adults who needed mental health treatment did not receive it.

Even more problematic was what occurred with those who suffered from serious mental illness during that timeframe. Of those people, only 60 percent received some sort of mental health treatment, and 40 percent did not. These were both lower than the national averages, but they are still very high.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Ultimately, whether it’s California mental health or the mental health status of any other state or country, this problem not only persists, but appears to be getting worse. The more we can learn about who it affects, how it affects them, when it affects them and what people tend to do about it, the better off we are as a society.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental health challenge, do not become part of the statistics that do not get the help they need. Contact us today to learn more about how we, or if it best serves your needs, someone else can help you. The first step is often the most difficult, but calling us today would be that first step towards getting a handle on the mental health challenges that trouble you.

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