Health Status & Disparities

Mental Health

Mental health is an increasing cause for concern, with rising rates of poor mental health days, hospital discharges for mental health disorders and suicides.

While extensive data is not available for mental health, there are a few measurements that help draw a picture of mental health status in the Kansas City region.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual county-level survey of health status and behavior conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and individual states, offers self-reported data that measures the number of poor mental health days individuals have had in the last 30 days. This data shows an increase in poor mental health days in most area counties between 2010 and 2015. Caution should be used in interpreting data from smaller counties because of small sample size.

Hospital discharge rates provide another indicator of mental health. This data quantifies the number of patients discharged after treatment for mental disorders by county. Discharge rates seem significantly higher for Missouri counties, which may warrant a more in-depth look to determine if there is a difference in data reporting or a more systemic cause for the difference. Generally discharge rates seem to be declining for mental disorders.

Another measure of mental health is the number of suicides. The rate of deaths by suicide per 100,000 population continues to rise, indicating growing problems with mental health. For the region, the total number of deaths by suicide grew from 297 to 347 between 2010 and 2015, a 17 percent increase.

Young people are experiencing a similar increase in mental disorder diagnosis.

For youth under age 15, discharge rates for mental disorder generally rose, especially for the three largest counties —Johnson, Wyandotte and Jackson — as well as the two states. For youth between the ages of 15 and 24, the discharge rate declined again especially for the three largest counties and two states.

Note should be taken that discharge rates are considerably higher in Missouri counties than in Kansas counties, especially for those under age 15. Caution should be used in interpreting data from smaller counties because of small sample size.

Data is the most current available as of September 2017.

Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | ©