Exploring patterns in mental health treatment and interests of single adults in the United States: a secondary data analysis

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine mental health treatment utilization and interest among the large and growing demographic of single adults in the United States, who face unique societal stressors and pressures that may contribute to their heightened need for mental healthcare. Method: We analyzed data from 3,453 single adults, focusing on those with possible mental health treatment needs by excluding those with positive self-assessments. We assessed prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of mental health treatment, including psychotherapy and psychiatric medication use, and interest in attending psychotherapy among participants who had never attended. Results: 26% were in mental health treatment; 17% were attending psychotherapy, 16% were taking psychiatric medications, and 7% were doing both. Further, 64% had never attended psychotherapy, of which 35% expressed interest in future attendance. There were differences in current psychotherapy attendance and psychiatric medication use by gender and sexual orientation, with women and gay/lesbian individuals more likely to engage in both forms of mental health treatment. Additionally, interest in future psychotherapy among those who had never attended varied significantly by age, gender, and race. Younger individuals, women, and Black/African-American participants showed higher likelihoods of interest in psychotherapy. Conclusion: Our research highlights a critical gap in mental health treatment utilization among single adults who may be experiencing a need for those services. Despite a seemingly higher likelihood of engagement in mental health treatment compared to the general population, only a minority of single adults in our sample were utilizing mental health treatment. This underutilization and the observed demographic disparities in mental health treatment underscore the need for targeted outreach, personalized treatment plans, enhanced provider training, and policy advocacy to ensure equitable access to mental healthcare for single adults across sociodemographic backgrounds.

Description

Copyright © 2024 Gesselman, Kaufman, Weeks, Moscovici, Bennett-Brown, Adams, Campbell, Piazza, Bhuyan, Dubé, Hille and Garcia. cc-by

Keywords

client characteristics, ethnic/racial identity, gender identity, mental health treatment-seeking, psychotherapy

Citation

Gesselman, A.N., Kaufman, E.M., Weeks, L.Y.S., Moscovici, Z., Bennett-Brown, M., Adams, O.R., Campbell, J.T., Piazza, M., Bhuyan, L., Dube, S., Hille, J.J., & Garcia, J.R.. 2024. Exploring patterns in mental health treatment and interests of single adults in the United States: a secondary data analysis. Frontiers in Public Health, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2024.1292603

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