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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mental Health Status and Use of Mental Health Services by California Adults


This policy brief, based on data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2005), presents a comprehensive overview of mental health status and service use in California, and highlights differences by age, gender, race/ethnicity, income and insurance status. The authors find that nearly one in five adults in California, about 4.9 million persons, said they needed help for a mental or emotional health problem. Approximately one in 25, or over one million Californians, reported symptoms associated with serious psychological distress (SPD).1 Of those adults with either perceived need or SPD, only one in three reported visiting a mental health professional for treatment.

Mental health status was also closely linked to income and was pervasive regardless of race/ethnicity. Although mental health services can be effective, there were significant barriers to access to care, including fear of stigma as well as lack of insurance.

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