There's A Problem With How Depression Is Treated

It's not exactly news that mental health care in this country is not as great as it should be, to put it lightly. Considering the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and the fact that it can be difficult to find the right resources, it is not exactly surprising — but nonetheless unfortunate — that many adults with mental illness go untreated. Mental Health America reported that in 2012 to 2013 alone, 57.2 percent of adults with a mental illness received no treatment. Now, some even more unsettling news about mental health care: A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week found that many people with depression aren't being treated. Not only is that upsetting on a personal level to know that people out there are suffering in silence, it also highlights a big problem with mental health care in general.

In 2012 and 2013, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality conducted a large national survey of 46,000 Americans, using what the New York Times deemed "a well-validated scale to determine depressed mood." The results showed that about 8 percent of those who took the survey fit the depression for criteria, yet out of that 8 percent, just 28.7 percent were being treated for depression. Researchers characterized treatment as having visited a psychotherapist or other mental health professional, or having taken psychiatric medication. So, to recap: Only 28.7 percent of adults over 18 who may suffer from depression were being treated for it — that's less than one-third.

As if that weren't disturbing enough, the findings get even more interesting on a different level. The study also found that out of the people who were being treated for depression, only 29.9 percent had actually screened positive for depression.

These findings highlight two big issues with mental health care: one, that the people who do need help aren't getting it, and two, that the people who are getting help may not be even receiving the right type of care. These are serious problems that we need to address, and it just shows that even though mental health care is a big problem, we definitely don't have all the solutions.

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