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Arizona’s Mental Health Crisis Remains a Challenge

Posted on April 25, 2023 • Category: Progress Meter Updates

Arizona Progress Meter Update: Health and Well-Being

Arizona’s Mental Health Crisis Remains a Challenge

CFA has released new data for the Arizona Health and Well-Being Progress Meter, indicating a range of changes to the health conditions and outcomes of Arizonans. Mental health concerns are on the rise, while asthma, obesity, and hypertension rates remain steady.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) coordinates a nationwide health survey to gather self-reported data from the public on health conditions and determinants. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a trusted source of a variety of health indicators. It is one of the sources integrated into CFA’s Arizona Health and Well-Being Progress Meter, which measures how Arizona is doing related to health inputs and outcomes that indicate good individual health, healthy communities, and access to affordable healthcare and resources. Recently, BRFSS was updated with data derived from 2021 surveys which give a glimpse of how Arizonans are doing on key issues, including hypertension, frequent mental distress, asthma, access to primary care providers, and health insurance access, among others.

Notably, the rate of frequent mental health distress (defined as 14 or more days of poor mental health in a month) increased in 2021 after a brief respite in 2020. Slightly higher than the US as a whole, just over 15% of Arizonans report frequent mental health distress (see Figure 1). One significant factor in mental health concerns appears to be family income, where 1 in 3 of those with incomes of less than $15,000 per year report frequent mental health distress as compared with fewer than 1 in 10 of those who make over $100,000 (see Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 1: Arizona shows a marked decline in the percentage of residents who indicate they have frequent mental health distress (defined as 14+ days of poor mental health in a month).


Figure 2

Figure 2: Income is a significant factor in the rates of mental health distress across Arizona. 34% of Arizonans making less than $15,000 per year have frequent mental health distress.


Other health conditions indicate a recent stable trend, including rates of asthma, obesity, and hypertension (see Figure 3). For the past decade, about 10% of Arizonans indicate they have been diagnosed with asthma, while around 30% of residents have high blood pressure or are obese. Taking a longer view, obesity (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher) has been on the rise for the past few decades, where about 15% of Arizonans were obese in 1996—half of today’s rate.


Figure 3

Figure 3: In recent years, Arizona rates of asthma, obesity, and hypertension have been steady.


Explore the full Arizona Health and Well-Being Progress Meter for more information on health causes and outcomes, including infant mortality, rates of stroke and heart attack, access to primary care, and air quality, among others.


Why is Health and Well-Being Important?

In CFA’s latest Gallup Arizona survey that identified Arizonans’ seven Shared Public Values, including Health and Well-Being, only 60% of residents are satisfied with the quality of healthcare they receive. Older and more affluent residents are more likely to report satisfaction, as well as those in urban areas. Beyond access to healthcare, only 2 in 3 Arizonans say they live in a healthy community, and only about half of Native American residents say they have access to healthy foods. A broad and representative majority of Arizonans agree on actions to improve equitable access to healthy choices, make healthcare affordable, and address the shortage of healthcare professionals across the state.


Where do the Data Come From?

As with all the Arizona Progress Meters, data are publicly available from trusted and regularly-updated sources. Data used in these metrics come from the Arizona Department of Health Services, CDC, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and more.


About Arizona Progress Meters
CFA developed the Arizona Progress Meters as a tool for policymakers, business leaders, civic leaders, educators, and others across the state to understand how Arizona is doing in areas critical to achieving The Arizona We Want. Eight Arizona Progress Meters provide valuable and regularly updated data on 80+ metrics in education, jobs, healthcare, environment, civic engagement, infrastructure, and more to support policymakers and other leaders’ data-driven dialogue, decision-making, and action.Learn more and leverage all the Arizona Progress Meters today>