Large Shares of Women Report Needing Mental Health Services but Many Don’t Get Them

An analysis of 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey (WHS) data finds that although large shares of women report needing mental health services over the past two years, a significant percentage did not access services they felt they needed. Fifty percent of women ages 18-64 say they needed mental health services in the past two years (including 64% of women ages 18-25), but only half of these women obtained an appointment, which may suggest unmet mental health care needs.

Among those who felt they needed care, one in ten (10%) tried to get care but were unable to make an appointment for mental health services. Another 40% did not try to get mental health services even though they say they needed them.

Research has documented the challenges some consumers with health insurance face when finding in-network care. In fact, two in ten privately insured women with a mental health appointment in the past two years say their provider did not accept their insurance.

The country also faces a workforce shortage of behavioral health professionals in addition to other affordability challenges with health care infrastructure that impede accessibility. Among the one in six women who say they needed and sought mental health care services but were unable to get an appointment (16%), one-third say the main reasons they were unable to get an appointment were that they could not find a provider that was accepting new patients (33%) or that they could not afford the cost of mental health services (33%).

Conducted periodically since 2001, the 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey (WHS) includes a nationally representative sample of 5,145 women and 1,225 men ages 18-64 conducted primarily online from May 10, 2022, to June 7, 2022. Our analyses present the state of health services access and utilization among women and men by income, race and ethnicity, insurance status, and other demographic characteristics.

Review “Access and Coverage for Mental Health Care” and explore “Experiences with Health Care Access, Cost, and Coverage,” which presents findings from the 2022 KFF WHS on women’s health status, use of health care services including telehealth, and costs.

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