Mental Health in America

How the Pandemic Affected Mental Health Among Adults and Youth


According to research conducted by Mental Health America, mental health disorders are widespread and worsening. In 2020, the number of people who took anxiety screens increased by 93% compared to the previous year. The number of people who took depression screens increased by 62% during the same time period.

A Crisis Before the Pandemic

More adults and youth reported experiencing some form of mental health problem during the pandemic, but the numbers were increasing prior to the global health crisis. As noted by Mental Health America, 19% of adults in the United States experienced a mental illness in 2017-2018, 1.5 million more than the previous year.

Youth Mental Health

It is not only adults that are experiencing an increase in mental health disorders. More youth are reporting episodes of severe major depression and other mental illnesses.

As noted by Mental Health America: 

  • In 2020, 9.7% of youth in America reported having severe major depression, a 0.5% increase from the previous year.
  • Rates for major depression was highest in youth identifying as more than one race.
  • The majority of youth with depression do not receive treatment.
  • Less than one-third of youth that does receive treatment for severe depression, receive consistent care.

Many Go Without Treatment

Few adults or youth with diagnosable mental health disorders receive the treatment they need. As noted by Mental Health America, “Even in states with the greatest access, 1 in 3 are going without treatment.” Additionally, the number of youth and adults with a mental illness who are uninsured has increased for the first time since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making it even more difficult and costly to receive treatment.