Frequent Mental Distress

Frequent Mental Distress

Data highlight

Oklahoma ranks 36 (of 50) for frequent mental distress. Hawaii ranks the lowest at 15.5%, and Arkansas ranks the highest at 28.7%


Percent of women who reported that their mental health was not good 14+ days in the past month.

0 %
0 %



People who are frequently mentally distressed experience recurring emotional turmoil, anxiety, or mental unease. Those suffering this consistently are more likely to have chronic and/or severe mental health issues.

Why we care:

Mental health is essential to women’s overall health and well-being.

Nationally, women are 1.5x more likely to report frequent mental distress than men. This is consistent with findings that women are twice as likely to develop depressive and anxiety disorders (see Depression and Anxiety).

Most immediately, when people suffer from severe mental illness, it puts them at heightened risk for suicide. More Oklahomans commit suicide than residents in all but six other states.

In the longer-term, women with prolonged mental distress may cope with risky health behaviors like smoking and substance use. Chronic stress makes it less likely they will eat healthy or be physically active. Down the line, these behaviors increase the likelihood of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

Women who are: younger; Black, Brown, AAPI, or Indigenous; did not graduate college; live in rural areas; or (most notably) live in lower-income households are more likely to report frequent mental distress.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw unprecedented levels of mental health issues, especially among adolescent girls. In 2021, 57% of female US high school students reported having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (up from 36% in 2011). A third indicated they had seriously considered taking their own lives.

Despite these alarming trends, mental health screening and care remain hard to come by.

Uninsured women are just over half as likely to have discussed mental health issues with a provider than those with health insurance (see Uninsured Women). Black and Asian women are less likely than their white counterparts to touch on psychological well-being during a visit.

When women do report needing mental health support, they don’t always get it. Nationally, only half of women ages 18-64 who felt they needed mental health services in the last two years obtained an appointment.

What we can do:

This issue brief was written by Metriarch staff as part of our Data Lookbook. Peer review was provided by Whitney Cipolla with Healthy Minds Policy Initiative

Suggested citation
 Metriarch. “Mental Health,” Data Lookbook (2024). URL:

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