Key Takeaways

  • More than 20 percent of U.S. adults live with some form of a mental health condition.
  • Only 10.1 percent of adults in the United States received counseling or therapy in 2020.
  • Data shows that 75 percent of people who receive psychotherapy saw improvements in their emotional and psychological well-being.
  • In 2022, an estimated 27 percent of U.S. women received mental health treatment or counseling in the past year. 
  • Twenty-eight percent of teens self-reported receiving mental health treatment in 2022.
  • People ages 18–44 are more likely to receive counseling or therapy than older adults.
  • In 2022, 15 percent of LGBTQ+ Americans postponed or avoided medical treatment for fear of discrimination, including nearly three out of 10 transgender individuals.

More than 20 percent of U.S. adults live with some form of a mental health condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls mental health a basic human right and points out that mental health disorders can cause wide-ranging issues affecting a person’s daily functioning. 

While mental health awareness has been spreading over the years, not everyone gets help for mental health issues. Only 10.1 percent of adults in the United States received counseling or therapy in 2020. Additionally, men are less likely than women to get help for issues like depression and anxiety, even though nearly 10 percent of men are affected by these conditions and are more likely than women to die by suicide

Evidence shows that therapy is an effective tool for treating mental health conditions like depression. However, many people face cultural and systemic barriers to treatment access. 

Almost a third of adults with mental health conditions reported not being able to get the treatment they needed, according to a 2023 Mental Health America (MHA) survey—with a significant portion struggling to access services due to cost. 

The HelpGuide Handbook Team created this resource to address the state of mental health access in the United States. Below, you’ll find therapy statistics by type, including in-person and online therapy, and demographic data that showcases who has access to therapy and where there may be gaps in mental health treatment. 

Success rate of therapy statistics

There’s no specific data on the number of people that therapy has helped, but experts do know there’s a 75 percent success rate for those receiving psychotherapy, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). How quickly therapy can lead to symptom improvement varies by individual, and the APA suggests it can take anywhere from 15–20 therapy sessions for people to find relief from symptoms.

Therapy can benefit anyone, regardless of age group or demographic. However, a 2021 study found that psychological interventions, such as therapy, had a higher success rate for adults ages 65 and older than working-age adults between ages 18–64. In fact, in this study, older adults were 1.33 times more likely to show improvement from anxiety disorders and depression following treatment than working-age adults.

The type of therapy an individual chooses and has the most success with depends on a variety of factors, including their preferences, what conditions or issues they hope to address, and the therapeutic alliance Also called the therapeutic relationship or working alliance, this is the connection between patient and therapist. they have with their provider. A very popular form of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment approach that helps people identify unhelpful thought and behavior patterns and teaches coping strategies. Research shows that CBT is a successful therapy for mental health conditions like anxiety, and some providers suggest it is the “gold-standard psychological treatment.” In a 2021 meta-analysis, researchers discovered that 48 percent of people with anxiety-related disorders achieved symptom remission with CBT. 

Therapy facts and statistics 

Therapy statistics are a good way to understand the effectiveness of different therapeutic methods for different groups of people. Understanding who uses and benefits from therapy—and who doesn’t—can also help identify gaps in access. 

Therapy statistics by type

Many different types of therapy exist, and practitioners may use multiple modalities and techniques with their patients, or they may specialize in just one area.

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a highly effective type of mental health care for conditions like anxiety and depression. A 2018 study revealed that professionals self-reported an average therapy success rate of 73 percent

Despite being a well-known, effective treatment tool, access to talk therapy is still an issue, particularly for people living outside of big cities. According to the 2019 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief, adults living in non-metropolitan areas were less likely to receive counseling or therapy in the past 12 months compared to those in metropolitan areas.   

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that aims to change problematic patterns in behavior and thinking. In CBT, you learn practical solutions for coping with anxiety, including improving problem-solving skills and how to change and reevaluate negative thoughts. 

CBT can be highly effective for certain conditions and patients. In a 2018 meta-analysis, the authors found that for people receiving CBT for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder, the remission rate was around 51 percent.

Again, accessing therapy, especially therapy that requires professionals to undergo special training, isn’t easy for everyone. People may lack access to a therapist trained in CBT, or they may not be able to attend therapy sessions due to:

  • Transportation issues.
  • Family or professional obligations. 
  • Fear of stigma. 
  • Anxiety disorder symptoms.

Online therapy

If you live with social anxiety or agoraphobia, online therapy could help you receive treatment from your home. People in rural communities or those with other scheduling conflicts, like shift work, may also find it easier to fit teletherapy into their lives than in-person appointments. 

In 2020, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued a nationwide poll on telehealth services, which revealed:

  • Almost four out of 10 Americans (38 percent) have used telehealth services to meet with a medical or mental health professional.
  • Nearly six out of 10 Americans said they would use telehealth services for their mental health care needs. 
  • Younger adults were more likely to use telehealth for mental health services (66 percent of people ages 18–29) compared to older adults (36 percent of adults age 65 and older).

A 2019 survey of U.S. adults who previously used or considered psychotherapy to treat depression revealed that:

  • Less than half (44.5 percent) preferred in-person psychotherapy.
  • 25.6 percent preferred self-guided treatment.
  • 19.7 percent preferred expert-guided digital treatment.
  • 8.5 percent preferred peer-supported digital treatment.

Couples therapy

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) reported that three-fourths of couples who get couples counseling see an improvement in their relationships. Other research has found that 70 percent of couples receiving couples therapy found it positively affected their relationships.

However, according to one 2020 review, low-income couples are less likely than middle-class couples to get couples therapy primarily due to structural barriers like cost, lack of knowledge about treatment options, and lack of transportation to appointments. 

Music therapy

Music therapy is the use of music in a therapeutic setting to address the social, emotional, and physical needs of a patient, as explained by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Researchers suggest music therapy may help decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve daily functioning. 

A 2017 review found a combination of standard care and music therapy could potentially improve the mental state, social functioning, and quality of life in people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders. 

Art therapy

Art therapy, a type of psychotherapy that integrates art into the practice, may help reduce depressive symptoms and social dysfunction, decrease burnout, improve cognitive function, increase the quality of life, and provide many more benefits for college students, people who’ve experienced trauma, incarcerated people, and medical professionals. 

Art therapy may also be a great tool to help older adults. A 2019 study found that this therapy method reduced depression and increased self-esteem among adults age 65 and older living in nursing homes. 

Therapy statistics by age group

Data suggest that therapy use differs between age groups. 

Older adults 

Ageism may play a role in whether older adults seek therapy:

Adults

  • People ages 18–44 are more likely to receive counseling or therapy than older adults.
  • According to the 2022 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief, the percentage of adults who received mental health treatment increased from 19.2 percent to 21.6 percent from 2019 to 2021.
  • In the same data brief, the NCHS reported the adult age group most likely to receive mental health treatment were those ages 18–44 (23.2 percent), followed by adults age 45–64 (21.2 percent) and those age 65 and older (18.9 percent).

Teens

  • According to a NCHS Data Brief published in 2020, children between the ages of 12–17 are more likely than other age groups to have received any mental health treatment in the past 12 months. 
  • Decreased stigma and the impact of social media, like increased peer support, may be contributing to an increase in mental health outreach among teens. 
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that 28 percent of teens self-reported receiving mental health treatment.

Therapy statistics by demographic

Demographic lines like gender, race, and disability may also play a role in treatment access. 

Gender

  • In 2021, Statista reported that only around 12 percent of men in the United States received mental health treatment or counseling in the past year.
  • According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), nearly one in 10 men experience some form of depression or anxiety, but less than half seek treatment for it. 
  • A NCHS Data Brief revealed over one in four women received mental health treatment (27 percent) in 2022.
  • Despite this willingness to seek treatment, common barriers women face when accessing mental health treatment include:
    • Lack of insurance and cost of treatment.
    • Lack of awareness about mental health issues, treatment options, and available services.
    • Stigma associated with mental illness.
    • Lack of time and support.
    • Lack of appropriate therapy options nearby.

Race

  • The 2020 NCHS Data Brief cited above also reports that non-Hispanic white adults (23 percent) were more likely than non-Hispanic Black (13.6 percent) and Hispanic (12.9 percent) adults to have received mental health treatment in the past 12 months. 
  • A 2019 report from KFF revealed that white American adults (64 percent) were more likely to receive mental health treatment for moderate or severe anxiety or depression, followed by Hispanic Americans (60 percent) and Black Americans (47 percent).
  • A 2018 survey from SAMHSA found that among the 4.8 million Black Americans living with a mental health condition, about 70 percent do not receive treatment
  • Mental Health America (MHA) reported that cultural incompetence from health care providers likely contributes to the underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people of color. Stigma and fear of judgment also keep Black Americans from seeking mental health treatment. 
  • The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that only 36 percent of Hispanic and Latino Americans received mental health services compared to non-Hispanic whites (52 percent).
  • According to Mental Health America (MHA), Latinx/Hispanic people are more likely to seek help for a mental illness from a primary care provider than a mental health specialist.

Disability

  • According to a 2021 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (MMWR) Report, adults with disabilities experience higher levels of mental health and substance use conditions and lower treatment rates than adults without disabilities. 
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need of mental health services receive treatment.

LGBTQ+ therapy statistics 

People in the LGBTQ+ community face higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. Research has found that LGBTQ+ members are three to six times more likely to experience suicidal behaviors across all ages, races, and ethnicities compared to their heterosexual peers. 

Here’s what data and research show about the LGBTQ+ community’s access to therapy:

  • The Mental Health Alliance (MHA) reports that younger members of the LGBTQ+ community tend to have the most mental health concerns.
  • LGBTQ+ individuals tend to seek out mental health services at higher rates than their heterosexual peers. 
  • The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the yearly treatment rate of people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual living with a mental illness is 55.6 percent.
  • A report published in 2020 noted that 15 percent of LGBTQ+ Americans surveyed postponed or avoided medical treatment for fear of discrimination, including nearly three out of 10 transgender individuals.

Despite the large numbers of  LGBTQ+ people seeking mental health care, there is a shortage of professionals able to help them. A 2020 study found that only 12.6 percent of mental health facilities and 17.6 percent of substance use disorder facilities provide LGBTQ-specific programs. 

LGBTQ+ individuals can face discrimination, bias, stereotyping, and refusal of care when seeking health services, which may include mental health therapy, a 2022 poll revealed. The MHA has also found that about eight percent of LGBTQ+ individuals and almost 27 percent of transgender individuals report being denied necessary mental health care outright.

All these compounding factors contribute to the 60 percent of LGBTQ+ youth who desire mental health care being unable to receive it, according to a 2022 survey by the Trevor Project.

Therapy demand in the United States

According to a 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey, demand continues to remain high for anxiety and depression mental health services. People are also seeking treatment for trauma and stress-related issues in greater numbers. 

However, currently, there aren’t enough mental health practitioners to meet demand. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reported that 160 million people live in a designated “mental health professional shortage area” where providers and treatment are difficult to access. An estimated 8,000 more providers are needed nationwide to ensure adequate access for those in need. 

Luckily, many professionals are in training to meet the demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the job market for psychologists is set to see six percent growth between 2022 and 2032. The job market for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is set to experience 18 percent growth in that same period.

While job growth in this sector may help supply meet demand, gaps are still likely unless other barriers, like cost, location, and insurance hurdles, are also addressed. Teletherapy services are one way for mental health services to reach folks in underserved communities, but lack of insurance coverage remains a steep barrier to accessible online therapy. 

Our final thoughts

While therapy can be an effective tool for supporting mental health, lack of access to a mental health professional can impact your ability to receive mental health care. 

If you’re looking to receive mental health but can’t afford traditional options, consider asking therapists about sliding-scale payment options or see if you can find a therapy provider who takes insurance. Some insurance providers may also reimburse you for out-of-network therapists. Compare prices of in-network and out-of-network providers to see what will be the most affordable for you.   

In some cases, telemental health services may be a more convenient, cost-effective option than traditional in-person therapy. You may also find it helpful to seek out local support groups whose facilitators can help locate affordable mental health care options in your area. 

And remember, you don’t have to settle for a therapist who doesn’t understand or meet your needs. Online directories like Mental Health Match can be a good place to start when looking for a therapist that’s right for you.

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