HIGHLIGHTS. About one-quarter of U.S. adults report having a mental health diagnosis such as anxiety or depression or experiencing emotional distress. This is one of the highest rates among 11 high-income countries. While U.S. adults are among the most willing to seek professional help for emotional distress, they are among the most likely to report access or affordability issues. Emotional distress is associated with social and economic needs in all countries. Nearly half of U.S. adults who experience emotional distress report such worries, a higher share than seen in other countries. The United States has some of the worst mental health-related outcomes, including the highest suicide rate and second-highest drug-related death rate. The U.S. has a relatively low supply of mental health workers, particularly psychologists and psychiatrists. Just one-third of U.S. primary care practices have mental health professionals on their team, compared to more than 90 percent in the Netherlands and Sweden. Mental health is an important indicator of a society's overall well-being. Mental health interacts closely with physical health: people with chronic physical conditions often also have mental health issues. This data brief examines the mental health burden in the United States compared with 10 other high-income countries that participate in the Commonwealth Fund's annual international health policy survey. We also look at the relationship between mental health burden and social determinants of health, differences in seeking care, access and affordability of care, mental health and substance use disorder outcomes, and health system capacity. Such cross-country comparisons can provide valuable insights into how the provision of mental health and substance use care can be strengthened in the U.S. This analysis also can serve as a baseline measurement of underlying mental health needs across countries before the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to exacerbate mental health conditions in several countries experiencing social distancing measures.
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