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How COVID-19 has changed top mental health concerns

Yahoo Finance’s Adriana Belmonte breaks down mental healthcare in America.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, welcome back. The majority of Americans are not receiving help for their mental illnesses, despite a focus on mental health, thanks to the pandemic. Our senior editor Adriana Belmonte is here for details as to why. Hi, Adriana. Looking great from the studio. Sad news here, however, about mental health care. Tell us why so many Americans right now, frankly, aren't receiving the help that they need.

ADRIANA BELMONTE: So there are three main reasons that are driving this. The first is that there is a lack of available treatment types. So it could have to do with the laws in that state, you know, people with substance use disorder. It varies by state. A shortage of behavioral health professionals, and then, of course, lack of insurance or inadequate coverage. Basically, it all comes down to money.

KRISTIN MYERS: So talk to us about the money. What's the cost argument here?

ADRIANA BELMONTE: Yeah, so think of it this way. You know, every-- most people on health insurance, their preventative visits every year are free. They're covered by insurance because of the fact that if things are caught early, it prevents higher costs down the line. But the same isn't done for mental health care. And as a result mental health care from 2009 to 2019 increased by more than 52%. So basically, I think they thought that, you know, maybe it doesn't need as much attention as physical health, but the data shows otherwise.

KRISTIN MYERS: Curious to know if the pandemic has-- and we've chatted about this, how we've been seeing so many more mental health cases and issues, thanks to the pandemic. But I'm wondering if there's something to be said here about the pandemic also adding extra strain, at least in terms of cost, if we've seen some of these problems that existed prior to the pandemic really worsening because of the pandemic.

ADRIANA BELMONTE: Yeah, so mental health care is needed more than ever before. I mean, there are numerous studies that have come out in the past year that show that. I think one of the most striking statistics, though, is that more than 60% of all US adults live in a county that don't have a psychiatrist, which is kind of mind blowing.

I spoke to somebody from the National Alliance for Mental Illness. And she said that imagine if that was the case with cancer care. I think her exact quote was people would be rioting in the streets. So why are we treating mental illness different from all these other illnesses when it can have the-- it's just as serious?

KRISTIN MYERS: I also want to ask about the racial gaps and the racial lines that this falls on. I know that the majority of Americans are really not receiving that treatment. But how does that break down by race?

ADRIANA BELMONTE: So there hasn't been a full racial breakdown yet. But it does show that Black women are significantly more likely than anybody else to be lacking mental health care coverage. And it also goes back to socioeconomic issues as well. I would love to see a full report really going into it, but I do know that Black women are suffering the most.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, and I know, Adriana, that you have a write-up on this very important issue on YahooFinance.com. So I do want to direct everyone to that. We also have some mental health resources as well as a part of that. Adriana Belmonte, senior editor, thanks so much for joining us today.