US Insights

America’s Problem With Depression is Getting Worse

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Health 10.10.2018 / 06:00


23% of Americans believe admitting a mental health issue could damage their career.

Americans are leading the world when it comes to mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety, and the problem appears to be growing.

As countries around the world mark World Mental Health Day, Kantar Health turned to its 2018 Global Health and Wellness Report (GHWR) to get a sense of the scope of the mental health issues facing the United States. Sadly, our survey of more than 1,100 Americans revealed that the US is leading in several areas.

According to the World Health Organization, half of mental illness begins by age 14, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Depression is a significant contributing factor, and is a particular problem in the US. According to the GHWR, 62% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 report suffering from anxiety or depression.

USAdults Self Report Depression

More broadly, Kantar Health has recorded an increase in the number of adults in the U.S. who have thoughts of being “better off dead.” 4.64% have these thoughts ‘more than half the days,’ compared with 3.03% in 2011 while 3.25% think this on a daily basis, up from 2.02% in 2011.

Better Off Dead _Twitter   

For women, anxiety and depression levels were higher among those NOT in full-time employment than those working full-time, amongst all age groups. The Kantar Health data also show that younger women are more likely to report depression or anxiety than older women, both those in work and those not working. 

Women Anxiety Depression _Twitter (1)

Productivity Problems

Mental health matters impact more than personal lives. They bleed over into the workplace, resulting in a loss of productivity. Many companies have responded by offering more services to employees to help them through tough times. Employee awareness and interaction with those services, however, remains low.

According to our survey, less than one in three Americans are aware of their company having a mental health and wellness policy. Half of Americans said their workplace was supportive and respectful of their mental health and wellbeing. However, 23% still believe admitting a mental health issue could damage their career.


Still, Americans are getting comfortable talking about their own issues, with 41% of women and 35% of men telling us that they are more open than not with colleagues about their own mental health. Those numbers rise among younger Americans. According to our survey, 46% of women and 36% of men under the age of 30 are more open about their mental health and wellness with their colleagues.  

Source: Kantar Health

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