A new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute assesses the current state of mental health services in Utah, highlighting gaps in services, barriers to providing and accessing care and considerations for improving the system. The research found that nearly one in five Utah adults experience poor mental health.
The report was completed in collaboration with the Utah Hospital Association with the goal of preparing a comprehensive review of Utah’s mental health system in order to allow for informed discussions and decisions regarding potential solutions and reforms.
“It was an honor to collaborate with the Utah Hospital Association on the critical issue of improving Utah’s mental health system,” said Laura Summers, senior health care analyst at the Gardner Institute and lead author of the report. “While the study revealed there are many gaps and barriers to achieving an ‘ideal system,’ there is also a lot of hope and determination among industry stakeholders to move us there.”
Highlights from the report include the following:
- The demand for youth services is increasing. Suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 24 in 2017.
- Almost 40% of Utah’s depressed youth age 12-17 did not receive treatment for depression, and over half of Utah adults with mental illness did not receive mental health treatment or counseling.
- Discussion groups held with industry stakeholders revealed a sense of insufficient resources to meet Utah’s growing demand for mental health care and increased severity of mental health needs. While Utah offers a robust array of public mental health services, many gaps exist.
- Workforce shortages are a key barrier to providing accessible and appropriate mental health care in Utah—and a rapidly growing state population could intensify the effects of these existing shortages.
- Better integration of physical and mental health care creates a framework for improving Utah’s mental health care system. Integration requires breaking down provider networks and funding silos at the administrative and at the provider level to ensure providers can provide the best and most appropriate care to their patients.
The full report is now available online.