HAP Blog

Supporting Youth Mental Health

What the numbers tell us about the need for care in Pennsylvania

March 30, 2022

The nation’s mental health crisis poses significant concerns for Pennsylvania’s youth.

According to a report released recently by Mental Health America, about 10.6 percent of youth (or more than 2.5 million children) cope with severe major depression. The number of children experiencing severe major depressive episodes (MDE) increased by 197,000 from last year's report.

This blog series examines data related to behavioral health in Pennsylvania. Last month, we highlighted the prevalence of mental illness among adults in Pennsylvania. This second installment focuses on youth in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Here’s a look at the data:

  • The state prevalence of children with MDE ranges from 11.36 percent in the District of Columbia to 18.62 percent in Oregon. Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation with 12.88 percent (117,000 individuals)
  • State prevalence of youth with Severe MDE ranges from 7.3 percent in the District of Columbia to 14.8 percent in Wyoming. Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the nation with 8.2 percent youth (73,000 individuals)
  • More than 15 percent of youth (age 12–17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode during the past year
  • Childhood depression is more likely to persist into adulthood if left untreated. The number of youth experiencing MDE increased by 306,000 (1.24%) from last year's dataset
  • Nearly 60 percent of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. Even among the states with greatest access to care, more than one in three youth are still not receiving the mental health services they need
  • State by state, untreated youth with depression ranges from 38.6 percent in Maine to 71 percent in Nevada. Pennsylvania ranks 28th with 57.5 percent prevalence of untreated youth with depression (56,000 individuals)
  • The rate of students identified with an emotional disturbance for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) ranges from 32.23 per 1,000 students in Vermont to 2.13 per 1,000 students in Alabama. Pennsylvania has 16.33 per 1,000 students (26,105 students)
  • Children lacking mental health coverage ranges from 0.6 percent in Vermont to 14.8 percent in South Carolina. Pennsylvania ranks 17th in the nation with 6.1 percent (29,000) youth lacking mental health coverage

HAP continues to advocate for policies and initiatives that support mental health for all Pennsylvanians. HAP’s behavioral health agenda includes policies to expand access to care so that Pennsylvanians can obtain the services that best fit their needs.

Learn more about our behavioral health priorities.



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