Study Finds Stark Disparities in Coloradan's Mental Health

Study Finds Stark Disparities in Coloradan's Mental Health

Nearly half a million, or 14 percent of, Coloradans are affected by mental health challenges, a report from the Colorado Health Foundation finds.

Developed in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute, the report, Mental Health in Colorado: Working to Close the Disparity Gaps (12 pages, PDF), found disparities in mental health status and access to care by age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. For example, nearly 60 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students and 35 percent of LGB adults reported poor mental health, compared with 20.8 percent and 11.1 percent of their heterosexual peers. The report also found that while only 7.9 percent of seniors reported poor mental health, making them the least likely age group to do so, 19.1 percent of seniors with an annual income of  $10,000 or less said they suffered from poor mental health, compared with only 5 percent of those with incomes of at least $75,000. In addition, the study found that the suicide rate in the state rose to 19.4 suicides per 100,000 residents in 2014, up from 16.5 in 2007, with individuals from rural communities and men disproportionately affected.

According to the study, 442,000 Coloradans did not receive needed mental health care, including 33.6 percent of LGB adults, compared with 9.5 percent of heterosexual adults. And while rates of poor mental health in the state differ little by race or ethnicity, African Americans (7.3 percent) and Latinos (8.4 percent) were far less likely to receive support for a mental health professional than their white peers (13 percent).

"Mental health challenges cut across all life stages and impact individuals from all walks of life. Whether it lasts for a day, a week or a lifetime, no one is exempt," said Colorado Health Foundation president and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller. "While we've barely begun to scratch the surface on this widespread issue, we know now — more than ever before — the critical role that good mental health plays in overall health and well-being."

"New Report Reveals Stark Disparities in Mental Health." Colorado Health Foundation Press Release 05/03/2016.