Well-Being Mental Health

Most young adults say US has a ‘mental health crisis’

Fifty-two percent of young adults in a recent survey reported experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness.
(Westend61/Getty Images)

Story at a glance

  • Nearly three-quarters of young adults across the country surveyed between March 15-30 believe “the United States has a mental health crisis.” 

  • Only 6 percent of survey respondents disagreed with that statement.


Nearly three-quarters of young adults across the country believe “the United States has a mental health crisis,” according to a new poll.  

A survey released Tuesday by the Institute for Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found that only 6 percent of survey respondents disagreed with the idea that the U.S. is undergoing a mental health crisis.

Fifty-two percent of young adults surveyed reported experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness, and nearly a quarter said they had thought about self-harm. The latter represents a 4 percent decline from a year earlier when 28 percent of survey respondents said they thought about harming themselves.  

More than a quarter said they know someone who has committed suicide.  

The Spring 2022 survey measured the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 29 from March 15-20. 


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The Harvard poll adds to a growing body of research regarding the decline of mental health in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.  

A recent study revealed that nearly half of young adults experienced mental health symptoms during the pandemic’s second year.  

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) used a sample of 2,809 adults ages 18-25 years from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data to evaluate the scope of anxiety and depression symptoms from June through early July 2021.  

They found 48 percent of young adults reported mental health symptoms. Meanwhile, 39 percent of the population with symptoms said they used prescription medications, although more than a third reported being unable to receive needed counseling treatment.   

The teams’ findings showed a decline from a year prior. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found about 31 percent of young adults experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety in June 2020. 


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