U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Mental Health Care Utilization

In 2008, more than 30 million adults in the United States reported receiving mental health treatment in the past year. Women represented two-thirds of users of mental health services, including inpatient and outpatient care and prescription medications. More than 17 million women reported using prescription medication for treatment of a mental or emotional condition, representing 14.8 percent of women aged 18 and older, almost twice the rate among men (7.5 percent). Outpatient treatment was reported by 8.5 percent of women, and inpatient treatment was reported by 1.0 percent of women.

In 2008, mental health services were needed, but not received, by an estimated 10.6 million adults in the United States. Women were twice as likely as men to have an unmet need for mental health treatment or counseling in the past year (6.3 versus 3.0 percent, respectively). Among women, unmet need for treatment varies with age; 9.9 percent of women aged 18–34 years and 8.0 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds reported an unmet need. Slightly more than 4 percent of women aged 50–64 years also reported an unmet need for mental health treatment (data not shown).

Among women aged 18–64 years, reasons for not receiving needed mental health treatment vary by age. Cost or lack of adequate insurance coverage was the most commonly reported reason for not receiving needed services among all age groups. Women aged 35–49 years with unmet mental health treatment needs were most likely to cite this reason, followed by 48.1 percent of those aged 18–34 years, and 42.6 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds. Nearly one third of women aged 18–34 and 50–64 with an unmet treatment need reported that they could handle their problems on their own, compared to 25.2 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds. Fear of stigma—such as concerns about confidentiality, the opinions of others, or the potential effect on employment—and not knowing where to go for services were reported by 23.7 and 20.7 percent, respectively, of 18- to 34-year-olds.

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