People screening at risk for mental health conditions struggle most with body image, self-image and relationship problems
Alexandria, VA – More than 6.3 million people worldwide in 2022 took a mental health screening using the Mental Health America (MHA) Online Screening Program, a nearly 138% increase from 2020 and a 19% increase from 2021. Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts remain at the high 2021 levels, and more people screening at risk for mental health conditions are struggling the most with body image or self-image and relationship problems.
MHA is releasing this data in conjunction with the start of May as Mental Health Month. This year’s theme, “Look Around, Look Within,” and accompanying resources focus on environmental impacts on mental health, including safe and stable housing, an individual’s neighborhood and town, and nature and the outdoors.
Further analysis of domestic screeners reveals shifting concerns and disparities across multiple demographics. Among individuals who screened positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition in 2022, 60% reported body image or self-image as one of the top three contributors to their mental health concerns. However, the differences in the highest contributors to mental health concerns among the individual races and ethnicities reveal inequities in the experience of 2021-2022. For example, American Indian or Alaska Native screeners were most likely to select abuse or violence (16%) and grief or loss (20%); Black or African American screeners were most likely to select relationship problems (54%), financial problems (26%) and basic needs (5%), Asian screeners were most likely to select school or work problems (56%); and 50% of screeners who identified as more than one race were most likely to select loneliness or isolation.
Another significant finding came from the addition of our ADHD screening in June 2022. Within six months of its addition, the ADHD screen surged in popularity, eclipsing both bipolar and anxiety in screens per month. Data suggests that people are having a hard time staying on task as the world continues to adjust in the aftermath of the pandemic, with 84% of domestic screeners scoring at risk of having ADHD. The top three symptoms screeners reported included not being able to start a difficult task (85%), not being able to stay focused on a boring or difficult task (82%), and fidgeting or squirming after sitting down for a long time (80%).
In addition, 65% of ADHD screeners in the U.S. are over age 18, which is slightly older than the general screening average. Despite this, ADHD screeners under 18 have the highest screening severity, with about 88% of youth scoring at risk.
“These findings reveal a significant unmet need for mental health resources, particularly for youth and BIPOC communities,” said Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “We know that the earlier we reach people the better, as early intervention leads to better long-term outcomes for individuals and is essential to protecting the mental health of our nation. Whether someone is coping with body image worries, feelings of sadness, or being distracted more easily, screening is an important first step to understanding and addressing mental health concerns. As we launch Mental Health Month, the analyses from our National Prevention and Screening Program provide a starting point for enacting equitable, effective, and compassionate policies and programs.”
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, MHA has witnessed a substantial increase in screens taken as more people are experiencing anxiety, depression, psychosis, loneliness and other mental health concerns. Rates of moderate to severe anxiety began increasing in June 2020 and have remained above pre-COVID-19 levels through December 2022. Other statistics show youth, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ populations continuing to struggle with their mental health.
Other 2022 domestic statistics of note include:
- 38% of screeners in the U.S. were youth under age 18.
- Overall, 48% of all youth depression screeners reported frequent suicidal ideation.
- Suicidal ideation rates are highest among youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth of color.
- Across all screens, 78% of users in the U.S. scored positive or with moderate to severe symptoms of a mental health condition.
- 79% of those who took the anxiety screening scored with symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety, with particularly severe percentages for youth and BIPOC screeners.
- 35% of individuals in the U.S. who took the depression screen reported frequent suicidal ideation.
- Rates of suicidal ideation for all BIPOC screeners (38%) were higher than rates for white screeners (33%).
- 65% of screeners identified as female, 30% identified as male, and 5% identified as non-binary.
- 6% of screeners from the U.S. identified as transgender, a 67% increase from 2021.
In 2014, MHA created its Online Screening Program, a collection of 11 English and two Spanish free, anonymous, confidential, and clinically validated screening tools. Since its launch, over 20 million people have taken a screen to check on their mental health concerns online, making this program the nation’s largest ongoing, real-time mental health early identification program.
Read the full analysis here.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.