Is There a Mental Health Crisis in California?

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A stormy sea is indicative of the current mental health crisis.
May 9, 2024

Most of us are aware that these days, mental health statistics are not good. We have also discussed the problems that exist in California in the past. The bottom line presently is that everyone either knows or knows of someone who is suffering from mental illness, whether the person suffering has told anyone, is aware of it or not. More people in the United States are struggling in this regard than there are people in California, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

It’s still helpful to put some numbers and data behind the idea of a mental health crisis. As you’ll see below, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t what’s happening in California. SoCal Empowered has been helping people deal with mental health challenges for years, but despite ours and so many others’ ongoing efforts, there is still much work to be done. If you find yourself or someone you love suffering, contact us today for a free assessment of your situation.

The Report Containing the Data

The source for the data relating to this issue comes from a nonprofit organization known as Mental Health America, or MHA. Every year, they publish a guide known as “The State of Mental Health in America.” We are focusing on the 2023 version, as it is the most recent. The report contains reams of information regarding mental health in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Relevant Measures

According to the report, 15 measures were compiled in order to determine different types of rankings. These measures include:

  1. Adults with Any Mental Illness (AMI)
  2. Adults with Substance Use Disorder in the Past Year
  3. Adults with Serious Thoughts of Suicide
  4. Youth with at Least One Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in the Past Year
  5. Youth with Substance Use Disorder in the Past Year
  6. Youth with Severe MDE
  7. Adults with AMI Who Did Not Receive Treatment
  8. Adults with AMI Reporting Unmet Need
  9. Adults with AMI Who Are Uninsured
  10. Adults Reporting 14+ Mentally Unhealthy Days a Month Who Could Not See a Doctor Due to Costs
  11. Youth with MDE Who Did Not Receive Mental Health Services
  12. Youth with Severe MDE Who Received Some Consistent Treatment
  13. Youth with Private Insurance That Did Not Cover Mental or Emotional Problems
  14. Students (Grades K+) Identified with Emotional Disturbance for an Individualized Education Program
  15. Mental Health Workforce Availability

Each was given equal weight when compiling the rankings based on available data.

California’s General Rankings

On an overall basis, California ranked 19th with regards to the state of its mental health measurements. The states above California appear below:

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Delaware
  5. Connecticut
  6. New Jersey
  7. District of Columbia
  8. New York
  9. Illinois
  10. Maryland
  11. Kentucky
  12. Vermont
  13. Rhode Island
  14. New Hampshire
  15. South Carolina
  16. North Carolina
  17. Michigan
  18. Hawaii

With regards to the overall prevalence of mental illness, California ranked 12th best in the country. 20 percent of the adult population in the state experienced some form of mental illness in 2023, which comes to a total of 6,169,000 people. In addition, over 5 million adults in California experienced a substance abuse disorder in 2023.

California’s Problematic Rankings

While the overall and largely generalized mental health rankings for California were not great, they were not troubling either. However, there were some measurements that should be cause for alarm to those who see them. The first is its ranking for adults with a mental illness who did not receive treatment in 2023. California ranked 49th in that category, with over 62 percent of adults suffering from mental illness not receiving treatment. Only Arizona and Hawaii had higher percentages of adults who fell into this category.

Finally, California ranked low in access to care for mental health problems. Nine factors were used to compile the Access Ranking, including:

  1. Adults with AMI Who Did Not Receive Treatment
  2. Adults with AMI Reporting Unmet Need
  3. Adults with AMI Who Are Uninsured
  4. Adults Reporting 14+ Mentally Unhealthy Days a Month Who Could Not See a Doctor Due to Costs
  5. Youth with MDE Who Did Not Receive Mental Health Services
  6. Youth with Severe MDE Who Received Some Consistent Treatment
  7. Youth with Private Insurance That Did Not Cover Mental or Emotional Problems
  8. Students (K+) Identified with Emotional Disturbance for an Individualized Education Program
  9. Mental Health Workforce Availability

California ranked 31st in this category.

Does All Of This Equal a Mental Health Crisis?

One of the definitions of the word crisis is “a situation that has reached a critical phase.” While opinions may vary, the facts that:

  1. Millions of adults in California endured mental illnesses in 2023.
  2. Millions of adults in California experienced substance abuse in 2023.
  3. California ranked in the lower half of states for access to mental health.

Given the population of the state and the fact that millions of people are suffering, one could reasonably state that there is a mental health crisis in California that’s unfolding presently. We do seem to be at a critical phase, and we do need to make more efforts to curb the tide of mental illness that’s taking hold of the state – and the rest of the country – in a massive way.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Whether there is a mental health crisis at large or not, the fact of the matter is that when someone is suffering with mental illness, it’s a crisis both for the person and for any loved ones. We understand that, and we are working to help people who need it one person at a time. We pursue our mission with these individual steps because that’s what leads to the highest probability of success for those struggling.

If this includes you or someone you love, you need to contact our team at SoCal Empowered as soon as possible. We will listen to your situation and help you plot the best course of action. It’s time to regain your health and happiness. Contact us today for help.

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