Depression in Ohio higher than nation, poor mental health increasing

By: - October 27, 2022 4:50 am

Educators, counselors in Ohio say schools need more mental health resources. Photo by WEWS.

A new study shows incidents of depression are above the national average in the Ohio, and reported suicides are up as well.

Overall, the percentage of Ohioans reporting poor mental health was up, according to research from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio.

“Like other areas of health, data show that access to care is necessary, but not sufficient, to address the root causes of mental health challenges facing many Ohioans,” the report stated.

Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio

From 2011 to 2020, adult Ohioans who said they had “poor mental health days” jumped up 20%, from 12.7% to 15.3%, according the HPIO data.

The trend was largest for Ohioans between 18 and 24 years old, but the increases were present for every age group except the 55-64 age range. That group saw the only improvement, with poor mental health days reported 5.3% less than in the past ten years.

Younger adults, aged 18 to 24, were the group most likely to report depression, with 29.5% of Ohio adults in that age range having been diagnosed with some form of depression by a medical professional.

Of those reported to have depression in any age range, 27.4% were female, and 16.3% were male, according to the study.

Statewide, the rate of depression was shown to be 22%, which puts the state above the national rate of 20.5%.

Conversely, the national average of individuals seeking treatment for mental health is lower than Ohio’s, with 12.2% of children in Ohio receiving mental health treatment between 2019 and 2020, versus 11% of U.S. children, ages 3 to 17.

In Ohio, 18.6% of adults are receiving treatment, versus the U.S. rate of 16.5%.

“However, one in four Ohio adults (25%) reported that they needed mental health treatment and did not receive it, the same percentage as the U.S. overall,” researchers stated in the report.

Depression seems to occur more in Ohioans with lower educational levels and lower annual household income, according to the HPIO. Research using a survey system called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System showed 42% of those diagnosed with depression made less than $15,000 per year, and 31.2% reported having less than a high school education.

Suicide deaths have also ticked up in Ohio, with the increase greater in males. The bigger increase was seen in Black Ohioans, who saw a 56% increase in suicide deaths over the last 14 years, according to the HPIO. White Ohioans saw a smaller increase, at 34%.

Ohioans considered most likely to die by suicide tend to be in the 25 to 64 age range, researcher concluded using Ohio Public Health Data Warehouse statistics. But increases were found in all ages.

In adults aged 25 to 64, 19.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 population were reported in 2021, up from 15.1 per 100,000 in 2007. Ohioans aged 18 to 24 saw 19.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2021, up from 12.9 per 100,000 in 2007. The next highest group was aged 65+, with 16.2 deaths per 100,000, up from 11.3 in 2007.

The report recommended public and private partnerships to “ensure more Ohioans have the opportunity to live a health and productive life,” and prevention strategies that would promote mental health.

HPIO was contracted by the Ohio Department of Health to create a state health improvement plan “to improve health, well-being and economic vitality in Ohio.”

Through the use of regional forums and online surveys, along with meetings of an advisory committee, the improvement plan included six priorities to focus the state’s plan. Those included improvement of community conditions like affordable housing and K-12 student success, health behaviors like increased physical activity and nutrition plans, along with care accessibility strategies such as health insurance coverage and “unmet need for mental health care.”

“Access to quality mental healthcare services is critical for maintaining mental health, managing mental illness, preventing and assisting with mental health crises and reducing premature death,” the improvement plan states. “Equal access to mental health care is also an important step toward achieving health equity for all Ohioans.”

In order to provide the needed mental health care, however, the state will have to address a shortage in mental health workers, which the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio has said leaves the state with 1 professional for every 10,000 Ohioans.

Support for youth mental health could also benefit from further state investment as the state ranks near the bottom in addressing adverse childhood experiences, and advocates say child behavioral health needs more consistent support.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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