People Seeking Counseling

Goals

To identify the number of people in the U.S. who sought counseling/mental health services between 1970 and today in approximately 5 year increments and to identify how these numbers are expected to change between now and 2050.

Early Findings

  • According to the CDC, in the U.S. in 2012, 41.8% of adults with severe psychological distress (SPD) and 7.1% of adults without SPD had seen a mental health professional in the last 12 months. Given that 3.2% of adults were identified as experiencing SPD in 2012 and that there were 240.2 million adults in the U.S., we can calculate the number of U.S. adults with SPD as 7.7 million (240.2 million x .032) and the number of U.S. adults without SPD as 232.5 million (240.2 million - 7.7). We can then estimate that 3.2 million Americans with SPD (7.7 million x .418) and 16.5 million Americans without SPD (232.5 x .071) sought mental health services in 2012, for a total of 19.7 million Americans seeking mental health services in the U.S. in 2012.
  • In 2013, 38.2% of adults with severe psychological distress (SPD) and 7.0% of adults without SPD had seen a mental health professional in the last 12 months. Given that 4.0% of adults were identified as experiencing SPD in 2013 and that there were 242.5 million adults in the U.S., we can calculate the number of U.S. adults with SPD as 9.7 million (242.5 million x .04) and the number of U.S. adults without SPD as 232.8 million (242.5 million - 9.7). We can then estimate that 3.7 million Americans with SPD (9.7 million x .382) and 16.3 million Americans without SPD (232.8 x .07) sought mental health services in 2012, for a total of 20 million Americans seeking mental health services in the U.S. in 2013.
  • The CDC found that 35.5% of U.S. adults with SPD and 6.9% of U.S. adults without SPD sought mental health services in 2014. Based on 3.4% of the population having SPD and a total adult population of 244.8 million in 2014, the estimated number of adults with SPD is 8.3 million (244.8 million x .034) while the number of adults without SPD is 236.5 million (244.8 million - 8.3 million). Therefore, there were 2.9 million adults with SPD (8.3 million x .355) and 16.3 million adults without SPD (236.5 million x .069) who sought mental health services in 2014, for a total of 19.2 million.
  • For 2015, the CDC's report shows that 34.2% of adults with SPD and 7.4% of adults without SPD sought mental health treatment. With an adult population of 247.1 million and 3.8% of adults having SPD in 2015, we can calculate that there were 9.4 million adults with SPD and 237.7 million without SPD. Therefore, approximately 3.2 million adults with SPD and 17.6 million adults without SPD who sought mental health counseling in 2015, for a total of 20.8 million.
  • A report by Barna Group noted that 13% of adults in the U.S. in 2017 were currently seeking counseling services. Based on a total adult population of 251.6 million in 2018, it is estimated that 32.7 million adults (251.6 million x .13) in the U.S. were seeking counseling services in 2017.
  • The information provided above implies that there was a 57% increase in the number of U.S. adults who sought mental health services between 2015 and 2017. This seems unlikely given the relative stability of these numbers between 2012 and 2015. This discrepancy may be due to differences in data collection procedures and/or definitions used in the research.

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