Jun 15, 2023 - Health

Insured adults still struggle to access mental health services, survey shows

Illustration of a path avoiding plus shaped holes.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Large percentages of insured adults who say their mental health is only "fair" or "poor" report problems finding therapists or available mental health services, a new KFF survey finds.

Why it matters: The shortage of behavioral health workers is exacerbating the mental health crisis, and some patients say even when they find help their insurance may not cover needed treatment or services.

What they found: The survey of more than 3,600 adults found nearly half (45%) of those who identified their mental health as "fair" or "poor" gave their plan a negative rating for availability of mental health professionals, including more than half of those covered in Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.

  • 1 in 5 adults in this group say there was a time in the past year when a therapist or mental health treatment was not covered by their insurance.
  • About 1 in 6 say that there was a time in the past year when they thought they might need mental health services or medication but didn't get them, either because they were too busy, didn't have a provider they could trust or were afraid or embarrassed to seek care.

The bottom line: Having coverage doesn't assure that behavioral health needs are being met.

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