Study shows more Tampa Bay residents missing work due to mental health


Shane Ersland


Tampa Bay residents are missing work due to mental health concerns, and there is a need for more services in the area to treat them.

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Tampa Bay Thrives, a mental health advocacy organization, recently published a study that gauged the community’s perceptions, practices, and experiences related to mental health. The organization engaged Downs & St. Germain Research to conduct the survey in April and May.

The online survey was distributed to residents in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk counties. It yielded a total of 700 responses. 

The survey showed that nearly seven in 10 Tampa Bay residents experienced at least one poor mental health day during the past month. Among the 700 respondents, 14 percent of them reported missing work, corresponding to 524,500 missed workdays per month or approximately 6.3 million workdays per year. That was two million more workdays missed than the previous year, according to the 2022 study.

Access to mental health services is a barrier for many residents, as 26 percent of respondents indicated they were not able to get the care they needed within the last 12 months. Cost of care was the biggest barrier to residents receiving needed services, with 45 percent of them identifying that as their top barrier.

“There is a decrease in residents who received professional mental health treatment from 2022. In 2023, 23 percent of respondents indicated that they had received mental healthcare in the last year, [a reduction of] seven percent from last year.”

— Tampa Bay Thrives study

Despite cost being related to two of the top five reasons for their inability to attain the care they needed, 82 percent of respondents said they have health insurance. 

Other key takeaways from the survey included:

  • 14 percent of respondents reported missing work within the past month due to a mental condition, and the typical employee missed four days during this time period
  • 23 percent of respondents received professional treatment within the past 12 months, which was a seven percent decrease from 2022
  • Respondents were more likely to consult family members, significant others, and friends regarding their mental health issues than professional clinicians or primary care doctors
  • Residents were nearly twice as likely to reach out to local organizations and programs when trying to find a mental health professional in 2023 than they were the previous year
  • Fewer residents cited a lack of knowledge on how to get help as a barrier to getting care in 2023 than the previous year
  • Availability and convenience were the lowest-rated aspects of the mental healthcare experience in the Tampa Bay area

Florida ranked fifth-worst in the nation for mental health, according to a recent Forbes Advisor study. The state tied with Georgia for having the second-highest percentage of adults with a mental illness who didn’t receive treatment in the past year (63.5 percent).