As the nation works to mitigate the public health crisis introduced by COVID-19, we have a critical responsibility to ensure a fast and coordinated response to address the growing mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. The data collected from users visiting MHA Screening (at www.mhascreening.org) in 2020 is the largest dataset collected from a help-seeking population experiencing mental health conditions during COVID-19.
In May 2021, MHA published our brief, Suicide and COVID-19: Communities in Need Across the US, evaluating data from individuals reporting frequent thoughts of suicide or self-harm on the depression screen (PHQ-9). This brief, Severe Depression and COVID-19: Communities in Need Across the US, is the second in our series, and explores the data collected from 233,397 individuals who took a depression screen (PHQ-9) in the United States in 2020 and scored with symptoms of severe depression, to identify states and counties in the U.S. with the greatest need for resources for a timely and effective response.
Depression is a risk factor for suicide, but suicidal ideation and severe depression are distinct mental health challenges, and they can each be experienced independently. While there is overlap between the communities in greatest need of resources to address severe depression and suicidal ideation, there are also key differences, which are presented throughout this brief.
This report also includes recommendations for federal, state, and local strategies to better support individuals at risk of severe depression, using the MHA Screening data.