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It's Not Only COVID-19: Californians Have Been Facing A 'Mental Health Pandemic'

A man and woman strain to touch each other but are separated by an amorphous, see-through barrier in this illustration.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
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Topline:

A statewide survey of some 30,000 Californians reveals an uptick in the number of people reporting serious mental health struggles over pre-pandemic years.

What stands out:

UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey highlights an “urgent need for mental health services,” according to a press release from UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. The survey was conducted in 2021.

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About 30% of adults age 18 to 24 experienced “serious suicide ideation” in 2021, up from about 24% in 2019.

“As has been observed in other studies, the impact of the pandemic is especially pronounced for young adults,” CHIS Director Todd Hughes said Wednesday.

The study also found: 36% of respondents age 13 to 17 said they "needed help for emotional or mental health problems," but 26% "did not receive any counseling in the past year.”

Need Help? Here Are Some Resources

The backstory:

Mental health experts warned of a COVID-19 “mental health pandemic,” as millions deal with the fallout from physical isolation, loss of a loved one and the myriad other disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Late last year, the U.S.’s top doctor put out an advisory warning of a mental health crisis among the nation’s youth — a crisis he said was made worse by the pandemic.

This comes as many Angelenos still struggle to get mental health services like therapy.

What's next:

For one, state leaders are trying to direct more funds to California’s mental health care system. In August, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a nearly $5-billion plan to increase accessibility to mental health services for young Californians.

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Go deeper: Why We're Facing A Coronavirus 'Mental Health Pandemic'