Skepticism shared by a minority, but most Americans still think mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health
May is Mental Health Month, and the United States is in the midst of a revolution of mental healthcare. Only a few decades ago treatment was rare, and often limited to state institutions, while today one in nine Americans are treating depression with prescription medicine. Though mental healthcare is more widely available than ever before, mental health provision has become a hotly contested issue, particularly in the wake of mass shootings.
By almost five to one, the American public agrees that mental health is still not taken as seriously as physical health. 77% agree with this, while only 15%. This consensus holds true across most demographic groups, including age.
Nevertheless, there is noteworthy skepticism towards people who say they have mental health issues. 30% of Americans – and 37% of men – say that “many people who claim to have mental health issues are simply making excuses.” A very similar percentage (31%) say that ‘most people could deal with their mental health issues on their own if they wanted to’, though most Americans (59%) disagree with this statement.
A large majority of Americans also feel that mental health care is best suited to treat people in need of it, and not as a general service. Only 22% of Americans agree that ‘everyone should be in therapy’, though people who have received mental health treatment (34%) are twice as likely as people who have not (17%) to agree with this.