The State of Mental Health in Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania saw troubling instances of mental health problems among its citizens during the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the prevalence of mental illness decreased overall in the state in 2021, incidents of drug overdose deaths and suicide continued to rise, and Pennsylvania’s mental health professionals were meeting only 38.4% of residents’ need for treatment by late 2022.

Despite these numbers, there are plenty of reasons to remain hopeful for the future, especially given the expansive resources available for individuals experiencing barriers to mental health care. In this blog, we’ll explore the state of mental health in Pennsylvania and identify resources you can access right now if you are struggling to receive care for your mental health condition.

*Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical conditions. If you believe you may be struggling with mental health or are seeking a diagnosis, please reach out to your nearest mental health provider.*

What Do the Numbers Say?

We can refer to the numbers from the nonprofit KFF to learn about the mental health crises facing Pennsylvanians in the years following the pandemic.

  • In February 2023, 32.8% of the adult population in Pennsylvania reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression. That figure was higher than the national share of 32.3% at the time.
  • Substance abuse and overdose deaths in Pennsylvania increased dramatically from before the pandemic to 2021. Drug overdose death rates rose from 18.3 per 100,000 in 2011 to 43.2 per 100,000 in 2021. Opioids were the primary drug type involved in those deaths, with 75% of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania coming from opioids that year.
  • Pennsylvania’s suicide rate in 2021 was 13.9 per 100,000, lower than the national average at the time but still a modest increase from the state’s 2011 rate of just above 13 per 100,000. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s suicide death rate by firearm was higher than suicide deaths by other methods in 2021.

The other side of the mental health problems facing Pennsylvanians relates to residents’ ability to access the essential treatment they need. We can look at the numbers for this issue, as well:

  • The percentage of Pennsylvania residents who met their mental health needs in September 2022 was 38.4% (figure based on the availability of psychiatrists to treat those in need; other mental health workers did not factor in).
  • In May 2022, 22.6% of adult Pennsylvanians who were experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression said they needed therapy but couldn’t access it in the previous month.
  • Among adult Pennsylvanians under 65 who were enrolled in large-employer health insurance plans, those with mental illness paid more than double the out-of-pocket costs of those without mental illness: $1,277 compared to $625.

mental health in pennsylvania

What Do the Statistics Mean for Mental Health in Pennsylvania?

The statistics we cited above show that there is still work to be done to address mental health in Pennsylvania.

We can see the first year of the pandemic coincided with increased anxiety, depression, drug use, and suicide in the state. We also know most Pennsylvanians are not meeting their needs for mental health care, either because of a lack of sufficient insurance or burdensome out-of-pocket costs.

When left unchecked, mental health conditions can persist and even worsen over time. That’s why we believe in never ignoring a mental illness, even when accessing care seems difficult. As we’re about to see, there’s always an answer.

Seeking Help with Your Mental Health in Pennsylvania

Fortunately, there is hope for Pennsylvanians who need access to mental health care:

Remember, if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any other mental health condition here in Pennsylvania, you are never alone. Many online and in-person resources are available to guide you toward the care you need, even if you are uninsured, underinsured, or live in a rural area where transportation is a challenge.

Therapy & Psychological Services in Pennsylvania

You may feel isolated and hopeless if you can’t access the mental health services you need to feel better. At Dr. John G. Kuna and Associates, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to seek therapy or counseling so they can overcome their struggles and improve their lives. We offer therapy and psychological services, both in-person and online, from our 13 locations across Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Contact us today to make an appointment or learn more about our services.

Conclusion

The state of post-pandemic mental health in Pennsylvania reminds us all that our fellow Pennsylvanians still need help. Fortunately, numerous national, state, and local resources are available to assist individuals who need access to high-quality care. Seeking the support you need can be the first step toward overcoming your mental health challenges and living a more fulfilling life.