Story at a glance
- Women are more likely than men to have depression and anxiety.
- A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation details the hurdles women face when trying to receive mental health care.
- Limited provider availability and cost of care were two of the main barriers women reported when seeking mental health services.
More women than men reported they needed mental health services in the past two years, but just half of these women tried and were able to get an appointment for mental health care, a new poll shows. Forty percent of these women did not seek care at all.
The figures are based on a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Women’s Health Survey conducted between May and June 2022. A total of 5,145 women and 1,225 men ages 18-64 completed the poll.
Overall, 50 percent of women thought they needed mental health care within the last two years compared with 35 percent of men. Of these, 60 percent of women tried to make a mental health care appointment, while 56 percent of men did the same. Ten percent of women who attempted to make an appointment were unable to get one.
Findings also differed by age group, as nearly two-thirds of women between the ages 18 and 25 reported needing care in the past two years, compared with one-third of those between the ages 50 and 64.
Women are almost twice as likely as men to have depression and anxiety, and several mental health conditions are unique to women, like premenstrual dysphoric disorders. However, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous studies detailed the additional mental health toll the crisis had on women and mothers.
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Other factors exacerbating demand for mental health services among women in recent years include racism and the opioid epidemic, according to the KFF report.
The poll showed almost half of women who attempted to get care were able to get an appointment within one month while more than one-third had to wait more than a month.
Limited provider availability and cost were two of the most commonly cited reasons women were unable to access mental health care. More than half of women with low incomes and 58 percent of those with Medicaid coverage thought they needed mental health care in recent years.
Previous research has shown affordability is one of the main barriers to mental health care overall, while the United States is also suffering from a behavioral health care provider shortage.
“Significantly larger shares of women who are uninsured say they could not get an appointment due to affordability reasons, compared to those who have health insurance either through private plans or Medicaid,” the KFF report reads.
Even when women were covered by private insurance, nearly 20 percent said their provider did not accept their insurance when they tried to make an appointment.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic allowed more patients to access care via telehealth. Among women who had a telehealth appointment within the past two years, mental health care was the third-most common reason listed for accessing these services. For 17 percent, mental health care was the primary reason for their last telehealth visit.
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