90% of US adults say the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis, CNN/KFF poll finds

The fieldwork for the CNN/KFF Mental Health Survey was conducted by SSRS.

An overwhelming majority of people in the United States think the country is experiencing a mental health crisis, according to a new survey from CNN in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nine out of 10 adults said ​they believed that there’s a mental health crisis in the US today. Asked to rate the severity of six specific mental health concerns, Americans put the opioid epidemic near the top, with more than two-thirds of people identifying it as a crisis rather than merely a problem. More than half identified mental health issues among children and teenagers as a crisis, as well as severe mental illness in adults.

The survey captured the perceptions of a nationally representative sample of about 2,000 adults over the summer – 2½ years into the Covid-19 pandemic and amid ongoing public health threats including racism and gun violence.

The broad concern is well-founded, rooted in both personal experience and national trends.

“The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated numerous social stressors that we know can increase the risk of both substance use and mental illness,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose deaths reached record levels in 2021 and suicide rates were back near a record high after two years of decline. And in 2020, mental health-related visits to emergency rooms jumped 31% among adolescents ages 12 to 17.