Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

The Shortage of California Mental Health Treatment Centers for Young Adults

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Nearly half of all young adults in California and around the country are experiencing anxiety and depression, according to new research. This age group (18–25) is struggling more than any other demographic. However, there are not enough California mental health treatment centers or providers to address this crisis among young people. In fact, California has one of the worst rankings in the country when it comes to accessing mental health services. Let’s take a closer look at California mental health statistics for 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • About 2 in 3 adults with mental illness in the state do not receive any California mental healthcare services.
  • More than half of Californians say their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet its needs.
  • Young adults in California face many of the same challenges experienced by their peers nationwide, including the negative impact of social media and politics.
  • They also suffer from state-specific issues, including high rates of youth homelessness.

California Mental Health Statistics 2023

According to Mental Health America (MHA)’s 2023 California mental health statistics, one in five adults in California struggles with a mental illness—more than 6 million in total. And about 4 percent of adults report having suicidal thoughts. California also has one of the highest rates of substance abuse disorder in the nation, with 17 percent of adults reporting a substance abuse disorder in the past year. That’s nearly double the percentage MHA reported for the state in 2022.

However, California is unable to keep up with the growing need for mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment. Among adults in the state with mental illness, 63 percent do not receive any California mental health treatment at all. This puts California well below the national average of 56 percent. Only two states (Arizona and Hawaii) rank worse than California in terms of access to mental healthcare.

Part of the problem is a shortage of California mental health treatment providers, as well as a limited number of anxiety and depression treatment centers in California. More than half of Californians (52 percent) say their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet its needs. Moreover, 434,000 adults with mental illness in the state do not have California mental health insurance. For many people, that makes accessing care nearly impossible. 


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Know the Facts

Approximately two-thirds of California adults with mental health issues receive no treatment at all, according to Mental Health America’s 2023 rankings.

5 Top California Mental Health Challenges for Young Adults

Young adults in California face the same challenges as their peers across the country. The biggest challenges impacting California young adult mental health in 2023 include the following:

The Negative Impact of Social Media 

Because the state is a hub of the tech industry, California legislators are particularly aware of the detrimental effects of social media on young people. Earlier this year, California Attorney General Rob Bonta launched an investigation of TikTok and Instagram. Bonta stated that the social media companies continue to promote their platforms to teens and young adults, despite knowing that they take “a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being.” In addition, two state lawmakers introduced a proposal that would allow parents in California to sue social media companies for the mental health effects of social media addiction.

The Mental Health Effects of Politics

Political events at home and abroad, like the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade or the war in Ukraine, can catalyze a wide range of emotions and reactions for young adults. This form of stress can damage relationships, disrupt self-care, and even lead to physical symptoms. In a recent survey, 20 percent of respondents reported feeling fatigued because of political news, and 1 in 4 felt depressed when their candidate lost an election. In addition to political upheaval, social and economic uncertainty also contribute to the young adult mental health crisis.

Climate Change Anxiety

For many young adults, environmental issues are not only a global concern but also a personal detriment to well-being. In California, the impact of climate change includes the rising sea level, an increased risk of wildfires and drought, poor air quality, and threats to biodiversity and to the state’s agriculture industry. This has led to what the American Psychological Association (APA) defines as “eco-anxiety”—“a chronic fear of environmental doom.” The APA stated that the impact of climate change on individuals’ quality of life “may lead to mental health impacts such as loss of a sense of control and autonomy, and feelings of helplessness, fear and fatalism.” 

Homelessness Among LGBTQ Youth

The city of Los Angeles has the second-highest homeless population in the country. This includes thousands of young adults ages 18 through 24 who homeless due to being economically and/or emotionally disconnected from their families. Among homeless youth, more than a third identify as LGBTQ, according to the California Coalition for Youth. And this group is two to four times as likely to report depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts, as compared to those with stable housing.

Marginalization Experienced by BIPOC Youth

California has a more diverse population than many other US states, including a high percentage of Latinx, African-American, and Asian American Pacific Islander young adults. These marginalized groups face ongoing discrimination and prejudice, leading to higher rates of mental health issues

Know the Facts

Suicide among Black youth (ages 10–24) in California doubled between 2014 and 2020, according to the California Department of Mental Health.

Newport Institute’s Mental Health Treatment in California 

Newport Institute is responding to the shortage of care for young adults by expanding our outpatient and residential mental health facilities in California. Serving young adults ages 18–35, our California mental health treatment centers address the underlying trauma and attachment wounds that catalyze young adult depression, anxiety, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders like substance abuse, social media and tech addiction, and eating disorders. With both Northern California mental health treatment centers and Southern California mental health facilities, Newport provides comprehensive and individualized care proven to lead to successful outcomes

In addition, Newport accepts insurance to cover our California mental health services. At Newport Institute, we work with most major insurance companies, both in-network and out of network, including the most popular California mental health insurance plans. Our team is highly experienced in negotiating Single-Case Agreements that allow our treatment to be covered even when we are not in-network with a young adult’s or family’s health plan. Our goal is to optimize access to care for young adults in order to address the California mental health crisis.

Specialized Care for Young Adults at Our California Mental Health Treatment Centers

Each client in our long-term mental health facilities in California receives a tailored treatment plan, designed by a team of medical and behavioral healthcare experts. Young adults’ daily schedules include a variety of evidence-based clinical and experiential modalities, as well as academic and life skills programming to support educational and career goals. Treatment is provided in a supportive, compassionate environment where young adults can connect with peers and mentors, ending the loneliness and depression that is so prevalent among today’s young people. Our locations include both Northern California and Southern California mental health treatment centers. 

Newport Institute’s licensed clinicians specialize in treating trauma and related issues through proven modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, EFT, and EMDR. Our approach builds autonomy for young adults while involving family in the healing process. We use the empirically supported Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) model to repair parent-child relationships. ABFT work helps young adults feel safe going to their parents for support when they are struggling. This strengthened foundation becomes a launching pad for building a more independent life and authentic relationships outside the family. 

Learn More About Newport Institute in California

Contact us today to learn more about our clinical model and our long-term mental health facilities in California for ages 18–35. Our Admissions team will take you through a psychological assessment and a review of your California mental health insurance at no charge.

We will guide you in finding the best mental health facilities for your needs—whether that’s Newport Institute or another California mental health treatment center. Get started today on the path to healing.


J Adolesc Health. 2022 Jun; 70(6): 985–988.