Americans Say They View Mental and Physical Health As Equally Important

A recent Harris Poll survey about attitudes toward mental health was conducted on behalf of the Anxiety and Depression Associations of America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Over 2,000 US adults over 18 responded. Results revealed that “ majority (65%) of U.S. adults has seen a primary care physician within the past 12 months, yet only 12% have seen a mental health counselor or therapist. Despite this, about 9 in 10 adults (89%) feel that mental health and physical health are equally important for their own overall health. However, more than half (56%) say that, in our current healthcare system, physical health is treated as more important than mental health, and less than one-third (28%) feel that mental and physical health are treated equally. It is not surprising then that the overwhelming majority (92%) of adults feel that health services that address mental health, such as treatment for depression and suicide prevention, are fundamental to overall health and should be part of any basic health care plan.”

While nearly two in five adults (38%) believe that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength, more than four in ten (43%) believe it is something that most people can’t afford. Similarly, three in ten feel it is not accessible for most people (31%) or something people do not know where to find (30%). The most common diagnoses were depression (21%) and anxiety/panic disorder (20%). While only a third of adults have ever been diagnosed, nearly half (47%) admit that they have thought they may have had a mental health condition at some point. Nearly a third (31%) presumed they had anxiety/panic disorder (31%), while more than a quarter (28%) considered that they may have depression.

  • Among adults who have been employed in the past 12 months, more than 1 in 10 have missed work days because they were too anxious (14%) or too depressed (16%) to go to work.
  • Nearly two in five (38%) adults have ever received treatment for a mental health condition. Talk therapy (29%) is the most commonly used treatment resource, followed by prescription medication (25%).