Mental health good but could be better
Hawaii has been ranked second in the nation for its mental health care.
HAWAII'S recognition as one of the healthiest states in the country includes mental health, a national study has confirmed. Mental Health America ranks Hawaii behind only South Dakota in low rates of depression and suicide
. However, mental health care practitioners should not be complacent; the study leaves out Hawaii's high rate of young people who consider suicide.
The organization's report notes that it should come as no surprise that states with fewer barriers in gaining access to mental health care have lower rates of depression. The study shows Hawaii to have the lowest percentage of people reporting that they could not get mental health care because of cost and, as a result, the lowest of those reporting unmet needs of treatment or counseling in the past year.
In addition, Hawaii has -- by far -- the nation's lowest prescribed antidepressants per capita and percentage of people receiving mental health treatment -- 8.2 percent, while other states ranged from 10.7 percent to 16.4 percent.
As noted in a two-day conference in Waikiki earlier this month, Hawaii has the ninth-lowest suicide rate in the country. However, the study does not include data from a 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey of high school students in 39 states.
In that survey, 17 percent of Hawaii youths reported having made plans for suicide -- highest among all the states surveyed -- nearly 20 percent said they had seriously considered suicide and 13 percent said they had actually tried to take their own lives.
People must "be really alert for signs that adolescents may be in despair and contemplating suicide," Marya Grambs, executive director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, told the Star-Bulletin's Helen Altonn. "We have to learn to ask those questions and get these kids help."
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