Barriers to Mental Health Treatment


Pie chart showing barriers to access to mental health

Striking data from the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll indicates that millions of Americans skip needed mental health care. Thousands of US adults were surveyed from April 12-19, 2016. The reasons why people decided to forgo treatment are instructive on how to address this huge gap in services.

The 21% who said they forgo mental health care were read a list of reasons and were instructed to indicate if any or all explained their not getting treatment. The most common explanation given by respondents had to do with cost and insurance barriers. But almost as many people said they were too afraid and embarrassed to get help or they didn’t know where to go. These results make it clear that solving the cost problem won’t necessarily increase access to care unless stigma around mental health is removed.

Databyte via Jamie Firth, Ashley Kirzinger, and Mollyann Brodie, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: April 2016. Kaiser Family Foundation.