mental health crisis in America 2023

There is a Mental Health Crisis in America, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Will Play a Critical Role

Why is it important to care about the mental health crisis in America? Over 50 million Americans, or 21% of adults, are currently experiencing mental illness. On top of this, youth are facing mental health issues at record-breaking rates.

It is critical to recognize that, even if you do not have someone in your life who suffers from a mental health issue, mental health crises can happen to anyone. A traumatic event, unsafe or insecure home environment, negative relationship, physical illness, hereditary genes, or even hormonal changes can influence the likelihood that any person may experience mental health problems during their lifetime. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic caused lasting effects on our mental health, including problems related to grief, anxiety, disconnection, and isolation. The impact is so adverse that the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has declared a national health advisory warning. The risk to health that loneliness poses is staggering; low levels of social connection can pose effects on a person as ill as smoking daily, and increased risk for premature death.

One of the most disturbing, lasting results of the COVID-19 pandemic is the rising rate of suicidal ideation and depression in children and teens. The same factors impacting rising mental health challenge rates in adults, including loneliness and social isolation, are impacting kids, in addition to ill effects of social media, fears of violence and climate change, and a confusing, polarized political environment. America’s youth is stressed, anxious, fearful, and needs help. Schools are building capacity as best they can to address some of these needs, but the demand for clinical help has risen more quickly than the healthcare field has been able to adapt. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) may serve children and teens and provide vital mental health support, serving as a bridge between their family, school, community, pediatrician, and any social services they may be using.

Leaders on all sides of the political spectrum agree that America is unprepared to eradicate the mental health epidemic for both adults and youth. 28% of adults with mental illness are unable to receive treatment, usually due to expense, and 60% of youth with major depression do not receive help. These statistics are – no pun intended – simply depressing. Yet, there are small steps that communities and individuals can take to improve the mental health outlook of their neighbors and friends. The more significant impression a person can make is to devote their career to healing. If you enjoy working in healthcare and are considering advancing your career with a master’s degree, becoming a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner could be the best decision you ever make.

Studies show that therapy alone is not making a dent in the mental health crisis in America. Though the number of Americans who receive therapy has increased by 33% since 2022, those who have an excellent level of mental health has fallen by close to the same percentage. There is a two-pronged problem to examine: the demand for therapy services has exceeded the capability of the sector to meet the needs of people seeking help, while the quality of mental health therapy is unable to match the needs of patients. Mental health diagnoses can be challenging to make due to inconsistent methods and metrics used to measure symptoms. The risk for misdiagnosis, and therefore, mis-prescribed medication, is high. In exchange for potentially mixed results, therapy can be expensive time-consuming, and out of reach for many patients.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners offer a solution that is not just therapy, or just a prescription. PMHNPs offer a critical role in providing care to those in need of mental health services by combining assessment, diagnosis, and treatment into a comprehensive plan. Most PMHNPs work in behavioral health or addiction clinics, psychiatric mental health facilities, or private practice, but some work in correctional facilities, hospitals, schools, or universities. In any of these environments, PMHNPs complete tasks such as:

  • Evaluate patients with mental health concerns.
  • Help patients manage chronic and acute mental health illness.
  • Diagnose mental health issues.
  • Design treatment plans.
  • Intervene with counseling or therapy.
  • Prescribe medication (depending on the state).
  • Evaluate treatment results and alter courses of treatment as necessary.
  • Consider the whole patient, including physical, emotional, and environmental factors.
  • Serve as a conduit between specialty clinics, prescribers, doctors, specialists, and other members of the health care team.
  • Contribute to mental health treatment research and advocacy.

At Goodwin University, PMHNPs can earn the 50 credits required to earn their master’s degree in as few as seven semesters while studying fully online, aside from immersion weekends and clinical hours. This flexibility is useful particularly if students intend to continue working while studying or have other reasons for wishing to attend school part-time.


Check out our downloadable APRN-PMHNP Get Started Guide to discover if a career improving your community’s mental health is the right fit for you!


The American Association of Nurse Practitioners found that Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners make a total median income of $137,000 and see approximately 15 patients each day. PMHNPs can make a difference in the mental health crisis in America by working with a reasonable caseload of patients who may be at all different stages of life and who are challenged by a variety of mental health issues. PMHNPs devote their work to meeting patients with care that considers the whole person, while also earning a rewarding salary.

Learn how you can get involved in Goodwin University’s PMHNP program by visiting us online or calling 800-889-3282 to have your questions answered!