Lundbeck teams up with Mental Health America to tackle the other COVID crisis

As COVID raged across the U.S., the country massively upped its testing capacity to seek out the virus. Lundbeck and Mental Health America (MHA) are hoping to do the same with mental health.

The very real and immediate COVID crisis took up so much capacity that a second, slow-burning crisis burned along behind it: that of Americans’ mental health. It’s always been a major medical concern, but COVID has exacerbated the issue.

Lundbeck, which sells a host of drugs for anxiety, depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder, is now working with MHA to highlight the issue in very real terms.

The pair is running a new U.S. dashboard that maps out at a local level where mental health is suffering most. The dashboard taps data on suicidal thinking, severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma and psychosis.

MHA previously published reports and research studies using data collected from its Online Screening Program. And it's a lot of information: Some 2.6 million people used the screening tool in 2020 and 2021. But the group has never publicly released the data at a local level nor mapped it geographically.

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Now, with Lundbeck, the group is for the first time revealing these data, and they make for some grim reading. The number of people with severe depression—as judged by standard scoring on a common depression assessment tool—was 213,718 out of those 2.6 million. The average rate across all U.S. states came in at 65 per 100,000.

At a regional level, the three states with the highest rates were Indiana, Utah and Tennessee, with Indiana having a rate of more than 85 per 100,000.

It’s a similar picture for suicidal ideation, with Indiana, Utah and Alaska seeing the highest rates. For PTSD, the states with the highest rates were Arkansas, Alaska and Oklahoma.

Overall, Lundbeck says it and the MHA’s analysis suggest Oklahoma, Indiana, Alaska and Utah have the “greatest need for additional mental health resources.”

“We are in the midst of a twin pandemic in 2022," Schroeder Stribling, CEO of MHA, said in a release, adding, "If we ignore the mental health crisis happening, it will linger for decades to come."

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But to respond effectively, communities need to know where people need help most, he said.

“That’s exactly what this vital project does," he said. "The dashboard identifies places where people are first starting to think they may be experiencing depression, suicidal ideation, psychosis, trauma, or other conditions, and it gives communities the opportunity to intervene at the earliest stage.”

For Lundbeck, the dashboard could highlight the need for better treatments for the disease—many of which dovetail with its drug lineup—and support higher spending on interventions.

Lundbeck's therapies include its atypical antipsychotic Rexulti, which made 2.4 billion Danish krone ($366 million) last year, up 9%; and Abilify Maintena, its long-acting atypical psychotic for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which made 2.4 billion Danish krone, up 7% on last year. Its antidepressant Lexapro brought in 2.3 billion Danish krone, though this was down 1%.