Mental distress is less in locals or less discussed


POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hawaii residents do not suffer from stress, depression or emotional problems as much as people in other states, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows.

The adult prevalence for what the researchers call “;frequent mental distress”; — defined as 14 or more days in the previous month when a person was stressed, depressed or had emotional problems — ranged from 6.6 percent in Hawaii to 14.4 percent in Kentucky, according to the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The average was 9.4 percent overall, it said.

More than 1.2 million people were surveyed in each of two periods — from 1993 to 2001 and 2003 to 2006.

Researchers said differences in physical conditions, such as a disability or diabetes, job loss or other stressful life events and social circumstances such as income might be associated with differences in frequent mental distress.

“;Perhaps people in Hawaii aren't as willing to acknowledge these feelings or don't recognize them,”; said Marya Grambs, Mental Health America of Hawaii executive director. “;It may be a cultural issue. Some of us are trained not to understand when we're having mental distress. I think perhaps people in Hawaii underreport it a little bit.”;

She noted the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted every two years by the CDC among ninth- and 12th-graders in public and private schools, found 12 percent of Hawaii's public high school students attempted suicide last year — 1,500 youths — compared with 6.9 percent nationwide.

“;We are the third highest behind New Mexico and North Carolina,”; she said.