Mental Health Lags Behind Other Measures of Wellness

According to a new federal report from the CDC, people in the U.S. have made progress in some health areas—for example, they get more exercise and fewer teens smoke cigarettes—but have lagged behind in others—particularly in the area of mental health. The report outlined the current progress of a 10-year health initiative set in 2010, called Healthy People 2020.

The measure called for improvements in 26 indicators of public health. So far, Americans have met or exceeded eight of the objectives, made progress toward achieving another eight goals, made little or no change in seven areas, and are moving in the wrong direction in three of the areas. Areas in which goals have been met or exceeded, or for which we are on the right track, include maternal, infant, and child health; exercise recommendations; cigarette, alcohol, and drug use in teens; secondhand smoke exposure; vaccination rates; and health screenings.

However, we have failed to make progress in the areas of obesity, reproductive health services for women, binge drinking, and diabetes control. Areas in which we are moving in the wrong direction include oral health, rates of depression in teens, and suicide rates.

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