WATERBURY — Access to mental health services in Vermont continues to be ranked first in the nation, according to the annual report, State of Mental Health in America.

“It’s an achievement Vermonters should be proud of,” said Emily Hawes, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health. “Having equitable access to care is incredibly important, especially when facing the broader challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting services for mental health is a large part of supporting the overall wellbeing of our community.”

The State of Mental Health in America report includes national and state data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. State rankings reflect both adult and youth (age 12-17) data and are based on 15 mental health and access measures, including the prevalence of mental illness, substance use disorders and access to mental health services.

Vermont’s network of providers is supported through a variety of funding streams that require attention and continued prioritization, particularly as staff shortages in mental health agencies across the state strain the system. Keeping mental health services at the forefront of community care enables every Vermonter to access the help they need when they need it.

“Our local clinicians and mental health workers have been invaluable in supporting our communities,” said Hawes. “Reaching out and connecting with neighbors, offering time to listen and empathize with those around us – it’s all part of how we help.”

In addition to taking the top spot for access to services, Vermont ranked No. 1 for youth access to services and overall mental health. The rankings are based on the percentages, or rates, for each state collected from the most recently available data. Most indicators represent data collected up to 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Department of Education.

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