Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder

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Mental health – our emotion, psychological and social well-being – affects how we think, feel and act, how we handle stress and relate to others, and how we make lifestyle choices. Mental health at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood, is important.

How common are mental illnesses?

Study after study shows the growth in mental illness diagnoses. Depression, suicidal ideation and substance use disorders are all on the rise, as are disparities in treatment and insurance coverage, according to a 2022 report from Mental Health America. And in New Jersey, 42 percent of adults who responded to the Census Bureau’s 2021 Household Pulse Survey reported having anxiety or depression symptoms, compared with 40 percent nationally.

NJHA has examined trends in mental health incidence, with a particular focus on the pandemic period. Among its findings:

  • From April through December 2020, the proportion of those under 18 years presenting to New Jersey emergency departments with a diagnosis for depressive disorders increased by approximately 84 percent compared to the same period in 2019 (1.37% to 2.53%), while anxiety among this age group increased more than 74 percent (1.22% to 2.12%).
  • The ED claims data also shows a pronounced increase in drug and substance abuse diagnoses. For all age groups combined, the proportion of drug/substance use diagnoses increased approximately 29 percent from 2019 to 2020, from 5.2 percent to 6.8 percent.
  • Hospital claims data for both ED visits and inpatient admissions for youth ages 12 to 17 from 2017 through 2021 showed increases in depression, self-harm, anxiety and eating disorders.

Additional findings are presented in the following bulletins from NJHA’s Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation:

Mental Health Resources for Parents

Resources for Parents

NJHA provides resources to help families navigate the mental health system of care. Visit our Mental Health Resources for Parents page.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a leading cause of death for youth, but its incidence also is rising among other populations including veterans. Visit our Suicide Prevention page.

Substance Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorders

Learn about industry efforts to address opioid addiction and other substance use disorders Visit our Substance Use Disorders page.

Mental Health Data Resources

Mental Health Data and Resources

Find education programs and links to additional resources to support mental health across populations and communities. Visit our Mental Health Data and Resources page.