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Number of People Reporting Anxiety and Depression Nationwide Since Start of Pandemic Hits All-Time High

November 6, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Mental Health America (MHA) recently released data from its online screening tool showing that the number of people reporting signs of anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic hit an all-time high in September. The new data accompanies the release of the annual State of Mental Health in America report, showing that nationwide, 19% (47.1 million) of people in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition, a 1.5 million increase over last year’s report.

MHA analyzed data collected between Jan. and Sept. 2020 from the online screening tool, MHAscreening.org, which is showing just how much mental health is being impacted as the pandemic continues. Screening data shows that:

  • More than half a million people have reported signs of anxiety and/or depression, with Sept. reporting the highest rate of severity since the start of the pandemic. Anxiety screens were up by 634% from January and depression screens were up 873%).
  • Nearly 180,000 people who took the screening reported suicidal ideation on more than half the days or nearly every day, with the highest reported number of 37% in September 2020.
  • Rates of suicidal ideation are highest among youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth. In September 2020, over half of 11-17-year-olds reported having thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than half or nearly every day of the previous two weeks. From Jan. to Sept. 2020, nearly 78,000 youth reported experiencing frequent suicidal ideation, including nearly 28,000 LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Between April and Sept., 70% of people reported that loneliness or isolation was the top contributing factor to mental health issues, followed by past trauma (46.1%) and relationship problems (42%).

“As the pandemic relentlessly persists, we are seeing the highest levels of anxiety and depression reported since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. “This is a troubling trend being fueled by loneliness and isolation. We are also seeing alarming numbers of children reporting thoughts of suicide and self-harm. We already knew that not enough was being done to support people living with mental illness, but the State of Mental Health in America report confirms the trend that mental health in the U.S. continues to get worse. Many states are ill-prepared to handle this crisis and policymakers at every level of government need to act immediately.”

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