Study Shows Utah is Most Depressed

Study Shows Utah is Most Depressed

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Nicole Gonzales and Tom Callan reporting Utah is the most depressed state in the entire country. A nationwide study released by Mental Health America ranks Utah high in depression and low in treatment of the illness.

This study is certainly a wake-up call for Utahns and our mental health care system. It examined levels of depression in each state and outcomes for those who sought treatment.

A local psychologist says he thinks mental health counseling should be more accessible in Utah. "I think, because of the economy and what not, a lot of our local mental health programs are cutting back on their staffs for lack of money. It's sad," Dr. Wil Higashi said.

The survey claims that Utah has the highest percentage of people reporting unmet health needs. Utah ranks in the bottom 10 states for its shortage of psychiatrists and outpatient clinics. The study suggests more can be done to break down treatment barriers that are associated with high rates of depression.

Higashi also believes another reason for Utah's high depression rate is the massive involvement in structured religions. "All religions make people feel guilty if they're not performing to the teachings of their church and their religion, and that causes a lot of depression too. Guilt is a big one," he explained.

The study also links the depression rate with a lack of health insurance. Lawmakers invested $2.7 million last year to treat mentally ill Utahns who are too poor to afford health insurance but earn too much for Medicaid.

State Health Director Dr. David Sundwall says the governor is about to propose health insurance coverage for all Utahns. "I think I'd look forward to details when he gives the State of the State address. That won't be too long from now," he said.

Higashi also says, despite Utah's low rate of treatment, it's a state that has lead the nation in antidepressant use.

The study names the least depressed state as South Dakota, and it's no surprise what state comes in second: Hawaii.

For more on the study, click the related link.

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