I'll Tell You About the High Number of Depressed New Yorkers as Soon as I Can Get Out of Bed


A new report by the New York City Department of Health and the Mayor’s Office says that 1 in 5 New Yorkers have a mental health disorder. I will tell you all about the study as soon as I am finally able to get out of bed.

“Major depressive disorder is the single greatest source of disability in NYC. At any given time over half a million adult New Yorkers are estimated to have depression, yet less than 40% report receiving care for it,” states the report that I do not have the energy to read because I’m too distracted by the elephant’s weight of anxiety that constantly sits on my chest.

Some other facts from the report that I might find interesting if I wasn’t so captured in a cloud of my own misery:

  • “73,000 New York City public high school students report feeling sad or hopeless each month.”
  • “8% of NYC public high school students report attempting suicide.”
  • “Approximately 8% of adult New Yorkers experience symptoms of depression each year.”
  • “There are $14 billion in estimated annual productivity losses in New York City tied to depression and substance misuse.”

Using the DALY (Disability Adjusted Life-Years) metric, the department’s research found that “mental illness and substance use disorders are among the leading contributors to the disease burden for New Yorkers, with depressive illness the single largest contributor after heart disease.” I’ve been wearing the same shirt for five days.

But the DALY metric is not a perfect tool:

DALYs…do not capture people who may not have a diagnosable mental illness, but who still may suffer from poor mental health. To support the mental well-being of all New Yorkers and move the needle on DALYs, we need to focus on our society itself—which means addressing big issues like racism, income inequality, and disparities in community resources or access to education and opportunity while also providing targeted individual care when needed.

“While 12% of moms citywide have symptoms of depression after giving birth, that number is 20% for lower income mothers,” reports the New York Daily News.

“In New York City, Latina adolescents feel disproportionately sad or hopeless and are more likely to attempt suicide,” reads the report:

In the United States, African Americans are less likely than whites to be diagnosed with common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. But when they are diagnosed with a mental illness, African Americans are more likely than whites to experience a persistent and severe illness. This may in part be due to biases in diagnosis. For example, African Americans are more likely to be given a diagnosis of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and that is true even when they have the same symptoms as white people.

DOH Executive Deputy Commissioner Dr. Gary Belkin tells the New York Daily News that all of the study’s reported statistics are conservative and the real number is actually much higher—sort of like how I need to get much higher to finally fall asleep at night.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be rolling out new mental health initiatives in the coming weeks.

Sounds good. I need another blanket.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via On the Town/MGM.

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