More than two million adolescents and adults in the Carolinas experience mental illness in a given year, yet nearly 60 percent do not receive treatment. The lack of access to mental health and substance abuse treatment services throughout the Carolinas significantly impacts the health of individuals, families and communities.
Many factors contribute to inadequate care for mental health conditions, including a shortage of qualified mental health professionals, a lack of screening for risk factors and the stigma associated with mental health and substance use. Mental health services have also been separated from the rest of the health care system, leading to fragmented care and poor outcomes. A fragmented service delivery system results in a lack of early identification and intervention, often leading to symptoms being ignored until they become acute and/or manifest in addiction, chronic depression, anxiety, social isolation or suicide.
Due to COVID-19, projected workforce shortages and other factors, the treatment gap is expected to increase, leaving more adolescents and adults without needed services.