A newly released study finds that nearly half of all Americans suffering from mental illnesses have not received treatment in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seventh annual survey of 3,000 American families was designed by Deseret News/BYU and conducted by YouGov from June 25 to July 8. It found that 47% of respondents who needed mental health treatment just before the surge of the delta variant of the coronavirus did not receive it.
That percentage varied according to personal wealth: 53% of respondents making less than $40,000 a year and 46% making $50,000 to $80,000 said they did not get treatment, while 38% of respondents making more than $80,000 a year said they did not get treatment.
“While not everyone reported needing physical or mental health care, significant numbers of Americans who said they needed it did not receive it. The lack of care was highest among the lowest-income Americans,” the researchers said in a summary of results.
About 50% of all respondents said they needed some sort of mental health treatment.
That matches the results of an NPR poll of 3,616 U.S. adults from Aug. 2 to Sept. 2 in which 50% said someone at home had experienced serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress or sleep during the second year of the pandemic.
The Washington Times reported Oct. 12 that the NPR poll found one-quarter of adults were “unable to get medical care for a serious condition.”
In the Deseret News poll, 26% of those who needed physical health care did not receive it.
Amy Swearer, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who specializes in the criminalization of mental health issues, said people with untreated mental health issues become particularly vulnerable to homelessness or quasi-homelessness as time goes on.
“When people receive effective outpatient treatment, they’re far less likely to be diverted to future psychiatric hospitalizations and prison time or end up homeless,” Ms. Swearer told The Times. “The longer they go untreated, the harder it is to stabilize and get them back.”
The Deseret News survey found that 32% of Americans had experienced an increase in sadness or depression during the previous year. This percentage was highest among single people with no children (40%) and lowest among those who are married with children (26%).
The study found that while American marriages and families had experienced some stress after living for more than a year with the pandemic, including financial pressures, they remained basically “resilient.”
Other questions in the survey focused on recurring annual questions about political differences regarding economics, race and family life.
The survey’s advisory committee included Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, Marcy Carlson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution and Brad Wilcox of the American Enterprise Institute and the University of Virginia.