Why Does the Mental Health Crisis Seem to Be Getting Worse?

When you’re diagnosed with a mental health disorder, it’s easy to feel alone and like no one else can relate. While everyone is on their own mental health journey, and we each deserve our own personalized treatment plan, there are millions of people struggling with their mental health on a daily basis.

Mental health is a global issue, and you’re far from being alone when you’re struggling with yours. Even though many people on Earth are dealing with mental distress, or have in the past, it can still be concerning to see how common it is. It’s even expected.

We’ll talk about the current state of the mental health crisis, why the problem seems to be getting worse and what we can do as a community to help.

Understanding the scope of the mental health crisis

It seems like mental health distress and disorders have become more and more prevalent over the years. A crisis refers to a difficult period of time or event that brings uncertainty to the point of potential danger if not resolved. Approximately 90% of Americans believe that the country is in a mental health crisis. 

Research indicates that since 2013, reported mental health disorders have increased by more than 10% around the world. The use of mental health treatment has also increased, as 21.6% of U.S. adults received treatment in 2021, which is 2.4% higher than the 2019 rate. 

In the U.S., approximately 1 in 5 adults lives with a mental health disorder. That adds up to nearly 20% of the U.S. population, which is approximately 50 million people.

From 2021 data, young adults in the U.S. have the highest rate of mental health distress when compared to older age groups, as more than 33% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 have mental health concerns. 

Children also have high rates of mental health disorders that seem to just keep climbing, especially for anxiety and depression. Between 2016 and 2020, there was a 29% increase in anxiety and a 27% increase in depression for those between the ages of 3 and 17. 

What’s contributing to the mental health crisis?

When you’re asking about the cause of the decline in mental health, let’s start off with the obvious answer. The COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on everyone’s mental health, and it’s been difficult to manage the lasting effects. In a variety of research polls taken between March 2020 and September 2022, 41% of U.S. adults experienced psychological distress during the pandemic. 

The loneliness of being isolated away from loved ones, and the worry for those loved ones’ well-being, surely contributed to significant increases in anxiety and depression symptoms. For people who suffered loss during that time, those negative feelings have continued to linger in 2024.

The mental health situation has indeed worsened in some ways. At the same time, there has been growing concern and awareness of mental health issues. This is a good thing, as it has led to increased reporting of mental health struggles and made it possible for more people to get help. It has become a less stigmatized topic in society over the past couple of decades, helping people to put a name to their distress and be open about their struggles. That means that there’s a higher rate of reported cases, giving us a more accurate picture of how much people are truly struggling.

Besides the triggers of the pandemic and increased acceptance of mental health struggles, notable reasons for increasing mental health issues in the world include:

  • Rising costs of living causing financial issues
  • Professional burnout due to “grind culture”
  • Political discourse
  • Shocking and frightening world events

How to improve the mental health crisis together

We can each do our part to gradually improve the mental health crisis, starting with ourselves and the people around us. By allowing ourselves to acknowledge our own struggles, and be there for those who are struggling in the community, we can each play a role in alleviating the crisis.

Here are some ways to improve the mental health crisis in your community:

  • Listen — As simple as it may sound, listening is the first and most important step to improving mental health. By listening and acknowledging your own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of others, you can recognize when there’s a need for help. Whether that means making lifestyle adjustments to manage your anxiety, or giving your friend a safe space to vent about their depressive thoughts, listening is paramount.
  • Be involved in support groups — An effective and inclusive way to make an impact on the mental health in your community is by starting, participating in or advertising support groups. There’s always someone else who can relate to your feelings, and they’re probably closer than you think. Support groups give people a safe space to discuss their mental health and find comfort in others who can understand.
  • Education and awareness — Educate yourself and others about mental health issues to reduce the stigma surrounding them. Increase understanding of the changes that need to be made. For example, you can advocate for accessible mental health resources. Challenge stereotypes and speak up against stigmatizing language related to mental health. Encourage open conversations about mental health and promote acceptance with your peers.

Lightfully Behavioral Health aims to help the mental health crisis

While it may seem like the outlook is bleak, the right treatments can help improve people’s mental health, leading to a brighter future for everyone.

Our evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care can help treat mental health disorders that are contributing to the mental health crisis, from anxiety and depression to PTSD and bipolar disorder.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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Mental Health Crisis