New Report Shows Remarkable Lack of Access to Mental Health Care


Every day, people struggle to find the mental health care they need and deserve. A new report released today from The Bowman Family Foundation confirms the experience that so many NAMI members face – that mental health care is far too hard to find, and for those who do find it, they end up going out of network for much of their treatment.

“There is no health without mental health, but The Bowman Family Foundation report lays bare just how many barriers Americans continue to face in getting the mental health services they desperately need,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of NAMI. “The disparities we continue to see between people’s inability to access mental health services compared to physical health services are not acceptable. Amidst a mental health crisis in this country, the current situation puts lives at risk.”

The report, Equitable Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Care: An Urgent Need, is based on a survey of 2,794 individuals conducted by NORC, including many NAMI members. The survey found challenges for adult-focused services, and even more challenges for youth in need of mental health care. Some key results include:

  • 57% of people who sought mental health or substance use (MH/SUD) care were unable to access any care on at least one occasion between January 2019 and April 2022.
  • Nearly 70% of adolescents seeking MH/SUD care did not receive any care on at least one occasion during the time period, compared to only 20% for physical health care.
  • 39% of people with employer-sponsored health insurance reported using at least one out-of-network provider for MH/SUD outpatient care, compared to just 15% for physical health care.
  • Some people found in-patient care, but it wasn’t easy. Two in five individuals who successfully made an appointment with a new in-network MH/SUD provider had to contact four or more providers before securing an appointment.

NAMI supports the report’s key recommendations that call on stakeholders and policymakers to expand enrollment of MH/SUD providers in payer networks, expand integration of MH/SUD care with primary care, reimburse tele-behavioral health services at the same level as in-person care, and enforce federal and state parity laws.

You can read the full report here.