Make your home page

66% of people in Marion County who need serious mental health treatment do not get it

In this photo illustration a woman appears to be stressed or dealing with mental health issues as she sits in front of a laptop computer. (Photo Illustration by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A report released ahead of World Mental Health Day has exposed specific needs and gaps in services for mental health in Marion County.

Indiana University researchers published findings following analysis of information collected from health centers and census data.

With data provided by Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, Community Fairbanks Behavioral Health, Aspire Indiana Health, and Adult and Child Health, the researchers estimated more than 163,000 adults in Marion County experienced some type of mental illness in the past year. Of that number, 39,000 of those cases were serious, and more than 14,000 adults made a suicide plan.

The report included a list of recommendations for improving access to care that began with sustainable funding followed by investments in workforce development.

The IU research team determined that two-thirds of residents in Marion County who required treatment for a serious mental illness did not receive it. Marion Greene, an assistant professor in health policy and management at IUPUI, highlighted the difficulties providers have in reaching those in need.

“Community mental health centers do a tremendous job reaching out to and supporting this population. But the reality is that this is a resource-constrained environment, with a lot of good people doing work on shoestring budgets,” Greene said.

Mental health workforce shortages, system complexities, and a lack of transportation or internet connection were deemed limiting factors for some populations receiving care. The report identified the LGBTQ+ community, incarcerated individuals, people experiencing housing instability or homelessness, and communities of color as the most vulnerable.

“In public health, we work to reduce barriers to accessing care,” Greene said. “When one in five Hoosiers are affected by some mental illness, it is not just marginalized communities who are impacted by a lack of services. To reduce these obstacles, we need more funding for our mental health system in Marion County.”

The World Health Organization recognizes Tuesday as World Mental Health Day.

The agency describes the objective as raising awareness of mental health issues globally and providing entities to discuss what more can be done to make mental health care a reality for people around the world. The WHO created “Mental health is a universal human right” as the 2023 theme for the day.