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New Yorkers are suffering with worsening mental health: Why?

New York bucked a national trend of increasing chronic conditions, but faced other health issues.

UnitedHealthcare’s America’s Health Ranking report ranked the state 27th, down from 23rd in 2022. New York’s primary issue is behavioral health, as 18% more people are in frequent mental distress.

While more mental health providers are in the state, it’s not enough to meet the need.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said this is part of a national trend in the health-care workforce.

“The number of licensed primary-care professionals in the United States went down 13%,” said Randall. “So, we lost 107,000 licensed primary-care professionals. It’s something that you need to take in context. All right – we have more individuals living with chronic conditions, and less physicians in the workforce.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

But, work is being done to make mental health care more accessible. A report from New York Attorney General Letitia James finds health-insurance companies aren’t providing adequate coverage.

Her report notes that of the 400 mental health providers listed on health plans’ networks, 86% were either unreachable, not-in-network, or not accepting new patients.

With the new year on the horizon, Randall noted that this would be a good time for New Yorkers to take stock of their habits.

The report notes New Yorkers aren’t engaging in healthy habits such as eating fruits and vegetables, getting more sleep, or smoking less.

She said resolutions for better health could improve outcomes for New Yorkers.

“This is a good time of year for people to start thinking about what do you want to change in your lifestyle, right?” said Randall. “Is it a difference in the nutritious food? Is it a difference in your physical activity? Have you not been to the doctor for a while?”

Randall said she also thinks elected officials need to take stock of what legislation should be worked on to improve health outcomes in the new year as well.

In New York, this means finding ways to reduce crime, since homicides increased, and reducing lead pipes in homes.