Studies show that mental health in the United States is worsening among all age groups. While this is because of a number of factors, one fact stands out: Many people are not receiving the treatment they deserve. Stigma around mental health and lack of access to care are driving many people away from getting the care they need.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 1 in every 5 Americans is currently living with a mental illness. Of those, the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

1. More than 50 million Americans struggle with mental illness.

2. 1 in 5 young people (age 13-18) has or will develop a mental illness in their lifetime.

3. Youth depression rates have risen from 12.9% to 25.2% from pre-pandemic to 2021. Depression symptoms can impact performance in school and interfere with personal relationships.

4. Most Americans lack access to adequate mental health treatment. 54.7% of American adults with mental illness did not receive care in the last year.

5. Mental illnesses can affect people of any age, race, religion, or income. A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and ability to relate to others and daily functioning.

6. Many factors contribute to the development of a mental health condition, including life experiences (such as trauma or a history of abuse), biological factors, and family history of mental illness.

7. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

8. Members of LGBTQ+ community are almost 3 times more likely to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Transgender adults are nearly 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

9. Common signs of mental health issues include: extreme mood swings, changes in eating habits, excessive worrying or fear, problems concentrating, and avoiding friends or social activities.

10. 1/2 of all mental illnesses show early signs before a person turns 14 years old, and 3/4 of mental illnesses begin before age 24.

11. More than 1 in 4 adults living with serious mental illnesses also struggles with substance abuse.

12. In late June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use.

13. One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

14. Half of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

15. Depression alone costs the nation about $210.5 billion annually.

16. The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.

17. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S. and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

18. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. In particular, depressive illnesses tend to co-occur with substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

19. More than 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness.

20. The most common mental illnesses in the U.S. are anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults (18.1% of the population).

21. The rate of mental health disorders doubles for those who have been to war or lived through a major disaster.

22. Improving mental health services in low- to medium-income countries is not as costly as some may think. An investment of only $2-4 per capita would have a major impact on millions of lives.

23. 70-90% of people who seek proper treatment for mental health disorders witness a significant reduction in symptoms.

Where to Find Free or Reduced Cost Mental Health Care?

The cost of therapy may be a concern. Check out the following options for free or reduced cost mental health services.

Check your local or federal social services

Your state’s department of public health or county government is a good starting point. They can connect you with community-based clinics near you that offer free or low-cost mental health services. Visit their website and search for the health services department. 

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
    For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location. 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
    NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness for individuals and loved ones affected by mental illness.
  • Mental Health America (MHA)
    MHA is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all Americans.

Contact professional organizations 

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a helpline 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) that offers information and resources in your area. . NAMI also has a crisis text line where you can connect with a trained counselor around the clock. Text the word “NAMI” to 741741.
  • You can also try contacting Mental Health America to access affordable community mental health services. Use the affiliate locator option to find a mental health professional near you.

Seek services at a university clinic

University hospitals and medical schools often have programs that give you access to therapists in training for free or at a low cost. Call a university or college near you to ask. Or search their website for their social work, psychology, or psychiatry departments, which can offer more information. Some schools also research specific mental health diagnoses. If a school near you is researching your diagnosis, you can enroll in a study and get free care like therapy and medications.

Look for nonprofit options 

  • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, a nonprofit organization, helps you find therapists who provide affordable mental health services. Once you pay a $59 lifetime membership fee, you can schedule an appointment with a therapist for $30 to $60 per session. Costs vary by state and mental healthcare provider.

 Another option for free and low-cost mental health clinics is the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC). Enter your zip code in thesearch function on their site to find a list of clinics that offer mental health services near you.