April 24, 2024

More adults are seeking mental health support, data shows

NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) — This month marks one year since the launch of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s hotline. The U.S. Government changed the lifeline from a 10-digit number to a simple three-digit one in an effort to make it easier for people to remember and use. 

And according to a new report, it’s working.

A KFF report found that the new number received four million calls from July 2022 through May 2023. That’s up 33% from the previous year. 

But not all of those calls are being answered. Nationally, the answer rate for calls, texts and chats to 988 is 93%, according to that same KFF analysis. But here in Texas, about one in four calls went unanswered. 

Outside of the 988 hotline, more Americans are reporting poor mental health and are seeking out help.

Gallup polling shows that in 2022, 75% of Americans described their mental health as “excellent” or “good,” down from 85% in 2019. 

Dr. Rachita Sharma, a chair for the University of North Texas’ Department for Rehabilitation & Health Services, told CBS News Texas that there could be a few reasons for this. 

The COVID-19 pandemic being one of them.

“Certainly people have had losses,” she said. “They’re grieving not just individuals that they’ve lost, but also that period of time in their lives.”

Dr. Sharma also said professional burnout is high right now. And she said there’s greater awareness around mental health than there used to be, thanks in part to social media. “There are a lot more licensed therapists or psychologists who are using social media in a productive way by increasing individuals’ awareness of various topics.”

Twenty-three percent of adults said they visited some sort of mental health professional in 2022. The last time Gallup asked that question on a poll was in 2004. At that time, 13% of adults had sought out mental health help.

Overall, younger Americans were more likely to say their health was “only fair” or “poor.”

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CBS News Texas


When is it time to seek help?

If you’re in a position where you’re wondering whether it’s time to reach out for help, Dr. Sharma said a key indicator is if you’re having more bad days than good days.

But it doesn’t have to be that extreme. Even things like job dissatisfaction and wanting to make a life change can be reasons to visit a mental health professional.

“Sometimes I feel that there is this misnomer that you have to be really struggling in order to accept help or in order to reach out,” she said. “Part of this is also preventative care.”

Tips for managing stress

A barrier many face when trying to reach out for help is that there just aren’t enough mental health care professionals. In Texas, 248 of the state’s 254 counties have been designated by the federal government as having mental health professional shortages.

If you’re struggling to find a provider, or if you don’t feel like you need professional help right now, Dr. Sharma has some tips to help manage stress: 

  1. Have a support network
  2. Practice mindfulness (Try to accept things the way they are without labeling them as “good” or “bad.”)
  3. Take on hobbies
  4. Practice gratitude

“It may not sound like a lot, but sometimes taking stock of the things that are going well in your life goes a long way in terms of helping us have perspective,” she said.

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