In a comprehensive new study of mental health status and the use of mental health services by Californians, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that nearly one in five adults in the state about 4.9 million people said they needed help for a mental or emotional health problem.
In addition, approximately one in 25, or more than 1 million, reported symptoms associated with serious psychological distress (SPD), which includes the most serious kinds of diagnosable mental health disorders.
Of those adults with either "perceived need" or SPD, only one in three reported visiting a mental health professional for treatment, a factor potentially attributable to fear of stigmatization, as well as lack of insurance coverage, the researchers said.
The study draws on data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which is administered by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
"There's a lot of need, but also a lot of obstacles connecting those in need to the services that can help them," said David Grant, the study's lead author and director of the CHIS. "Part of the problem may be stigma. It's hard for many Californians to acknowledge they need help to their family, friends or their doctor. The challenge for policymakers and providers is to both target appropriate services to those with needs and to reduce fear."
Grant noted that since the data was collected, the state has suffered an economic downturn, resulting high unemployment.
"The recession has created even more stress for people," he said. As a result, the study "is probably an underestimate of the true level of mental health need in California right now."
Among the findings:
Women at risk
Women were nearly twice as likely as men (22.7 percent vs. 14.3 percent) to say they needed help for a mental or emotional health problem ("perceived need"), such as feeling sad, anxious or nervous.
|Contact: Gwen Driscoll|
University of California - Los Angeles