America’s Mental Health Crisis


Sharon Kim

The mental health crisis in America is a serious issue. Read Reporter Laura Guske’s take on the severity of this epidemic and its possible solutions.

Laura Guske, Reporter

CNN recently conducted a public poll regarding mental health, finding that  90% of Americans believe the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis. This overwhelming number shocked me. To affirm this finding, I conducted a survey with  a random sample of high school students. Of the participants, 85.7% of teenagers from ages 13-18 believe the United States is facing a mental health crisis. 41.3% of the same population stated that on a scale of 1-10, they would rank their happiness at a 6 or lower. What is causing so many young people to feel so unhappy? In the survey, students shared reasons for their stress;  65.5% of participants stated school was the main culprit. They reported that they managed their stress through the following methods: sleeping, avoidance, and methods of distraction, many of which are not long term solutions that will truly lead to a positive progression in one’s mental health. Today, Americans’ mental health faces issues through the exaggeration of mental health problems, regressive impacts of COVID-19, and the declining socioeconomics of the country that spiral into peoples intrusive thoughts. 

I spoke with wellness podcaster Ellie Johnson of The That Girl Guide. In Johnson’s podcast, she gives advice and promotes wellness for people, encouraging people to become their best selves. She shared with me her insight on mental health in the United States: “I think there is a mental health crisis, but I think we need to figure out how to talk about it without normalizing it. Obviously I don’t want people to feel shame in their mental health but I also don’t want people to think that having poor mental health is normal.” 

There has been an emerging cultural emphasis on the normalization of depression and other mental health disorders. Though the intention is to remove stigma around mental health, Johnson believes that this has created the perception that mental health issues, like depression, are “normal.”  

“I want people to know that with time and treatment they can get better,” says Johnson. The normalization of mental health disorders has blocked many from seeking mental help due to the idea that these negative feelings and thoughts are normal, growing more popular. 

“My parents would tell me how they used to come home from school, play, run around and didn’t even have homework until high school. Academics, sports, and extracurriculars are so much more competitive now. So kids go to sports for hours after school and then have hours of homework after school and really just don’t have time to go out, explore, and create,” shared Johnson.

 Due to the increase in business in people’s schedules and daily lives, especially those of kids and teenagers, it has facilitated increased negative mental health in young people that then becomes normalized as expressed by Johnson. 


To  better understand the situation, I spoke with psychological counselor Allisun Griffths. Griffiths attended the University of Colombia, where she earned her master’s in social work, specializing in mental health and disabilities. 

A cause for America’s decline in mental health brought up by Griffth was recent inflation. 

“The inflation is absolutely insane, which also affects [receival of] mental health services. It gets to people when they can’t afford help and makes them even more depressed and more hopeless.” 

A person’s financial stability plays a prominent role in their survival in society; people perceive an increase in cost of living as a threat to their financial stability which is interchangeable to their survival. This causes people a tremendous amount of stress, amounting to necessary mental services like therapy which are too costly to afford. The positive feedback loop demonstrates a constant exacerbation of the issues involved. As a result, people begin processing a cycle of intrusive thoughts, such as “am I really worthy of being helped?” Our minds seem to be self destructive as they input negativity into our conscience. 

These intrusive thoughts are where many mental health illnesses stem from. Much of overcoming mental health issues takes conscious effort to reduce these intrusive thoughts.

“Overcoming mental health is work, it is so much work. But after you do it you will be like oh my gosh it’s paying off,” says Griffth. 


We also discussed the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. 

“Anytime there is a threat to us biologically in any way, shape, or form, our nervous system, which is fight, flight, or freeze is the thing that turns on. … they are showing people on the news passing away, people are getting super sick, they are being secluded, they can’t get physical touch, and all of this combined … turns on your nervous system,” she shares. 

         Griffths emphasized how COVID-19 has worsened the state of those with mental health disorders. The tremendous stress that people have felt in regards to COVID starts with the physical threat that people feel. As explained by Griffith, the “cluster” of stress created becomes too much for one to handle, which then sends people into feelings of hopelessness and depression. 

        So what steps should one take that is battling a mental health issue in combating it? Griffth suggests that one should start by trying therapy.

 “One therapy session can make a world of difference,” says Griffith. 

Having the opportunity to simply have a conversation with a professional gives people the ability to find new perspectives, treatments, and change their way of thinking. Though acknowledging the difficulties many face with accessibility to therapy from limited financial leeway, Gritths has some suggestions of mental exercises that can help retrain the mind to null or reduce negative intrusive thoughts.

          When experiencing an intrusive thought, one can think to themself: “I hear you, that’s okay I accept you, I know you are not a part of my identity, and even though I am experiencing this right now, I am not going to judge myself,” suggested Griffth. 


Over time, with hard work and a conscious effort, most mental health issues are treatable. This crisis the United States is facing has hope that the nation’s mental health can improve. Both Johnson and Griffith agree that mental health is treatable and they want their listeners or clients to know they are worthy of help. Like the cliche goes “in order to fix a problem you have to start by admitting to yourself you have a problem”,  Americans need to stop acting like mental illness is “normal”, admit there is an issue, and begin working through it.