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Mental Health Care Utilization

Narrative

In 2009–2010, nearly 31 million, or 13.6 percent of adults in the United States reported receiving mental health treatment in the past year for a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder other than a substance use disorder. Women were more likely than men to receive treatment or counseling (17.5 versus 9.4 percent), which is roughly commensurate with the higher prevalence of mental illness (excluding substance use disorder) among women (more information on Mental Illness).1 Utilization of mental health services was more common among women with higher educational attainment. Approximately 20 percent of college-educated women reported past year mental health treatment compared to 13.2 percent of women without a high school diploma.

Over 17 million women aged 18 years and older reported using prescription medication for treatment of a mental or emotional condition, representing 15.1 percent of women, which is almost twice the proportion of men (7.7 percent). Women were also nearly twice as likely as men to report receiving outpatient mental health treatment (8.4 versus 4.6 percent, respectively). Less than 1 percent of men and women received inpatient treatment in 2009– 2010 (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

In 2009–2010, mental health services were needed, but not received in the previous year, by about 11.5 million adults, corresponding to 5.1 percent of adults in the United States. Women were almost twice as likely as men to have an unmet need for mental health treatment or counseling in the past year (6.6 versus 3.4 percent, respectively; data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Among women, cost was the most commonly reported reason for not receiving needed services (46.9 percent) followed by the belief that the problem could be handled without treatment (26.5 percent), not having enough time (17.6 percent), and not knowing where to go for treatment (15.1 percent).

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Accessed 08/27/12.

Graphs

Data

Past Year Mental Health Treatment/Counseling* Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Educational Attainment and Sex, 2009-2010
Educational Attainment Percent of Adults
Female Male
*Excludes treatment for alcohol or drug use. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2009-2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and Statistics Program.
Less than High School 17.5 9.4
High School Graduate 13.2 9.2
Some College 19.1 9.2
College Graduate 19.6 10.6

Reasons for Not Receiving Mental Health Treatment/Counseling* Among Women Aged 18 and Older with an Unmet Need for Mental Health Services, 2009-2010

Percent of Women:

  • Could not afford cost: 46.9%
  • Could handle problem without treatment: 26.5%
  • Did not have time: 17.6%
  • Did not know where to go for services: 15.1%
  • Insurance did not cover enough treatment: 14.7%
  • Did not believe that treatment would help: 9.6%
  • Fear of being committed/ having to take medicine: 8.9%
  • Fear of neighbors-negative opinions: 8.2%

*Defined as a perceived need for mental health treatment/counseling that was not received.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2009-2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and Statistics Program.