A new Study from NYU Langone Medical center has revealed that more Americans than ever have serious psychological distress and the country's ability to meet the growing demand for mental health services is rapidly eroding.
Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed a federal health information database and concluded that 3.4 percent of the U.S. population (more than 8.3 million) adult Americans suffer from serious psychological distress, or SPD.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducts the National Health Interview Survey on which the research is based, SPD combines feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair people's physical well-being. Previous survey estimates had put the number of Americans suffering from SPD at 3 percent or less.
The findings -- believed to be the first analysis of its kind in more than a decade -- were published in the journal Psychiatric Services online April 17. More than 35,000 U.S. households, involving more than 200,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64, in all states and across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, participate in the yearly survey.
Among the study's other key findings is that, over the course of the surveys from 2006 to 2014, access to health care services deteriorated for people suffering from severe distress when compared to those who did not report SPD.
"Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation," says lead study investigator Judith Weissman, PhD, JD, a research manager in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone.