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Facts about Mental Illness in the United States

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Mental and substance use disorders affect millions of adults in the United States.

These illnesses are common, recurrent, and if left untreated, can be fatal. Thankfully, mental disorders are treatable and many do recover. Talking openly about mental and substance use disorders can help individuals recognize the signs of mental illness and encourage them to seek much-needed help.

  • The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders. Today, it is estimated that approximately 7.9 million adults live with co-occurring disorders.
  • Over 18% of adults struggle with mental health problems annually. This equals roughly 43.7 million Americans.
  • 47% of adults in America report having a substance use or alcohol problem.

Prevalence Of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a serious mental health issue that substantially interferes with one or more major life activities.
  • 6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder. Substance misuse is commonly found among individuals with bipolar disorder.
  • Nearly 7% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder. This includes disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults who experienced a substance use disorder, over 50.5% had a co-occurring mental illness.

Consequences Of Lack Of Treatment

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression and bipolar disorder, are the third most common causes of hospitalization for adults aged 18–44.
  • People with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.
  • Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die roughly 25 years earlier than others. This is often as a result of treatable medical conditions.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Many will not receive the treatment they need due to stigma or misunderstanding of mental illnesses.

It often takes time for people to recognize that what they are experiencing are symptoms of mental illness. Much of the time between first the symptoms and treatment is spent not recognizing the symptoms of mental health problems.

Encouraging primary care physicians to discuss mental health problems are necessary for reducing untreated mental illness. Screenings play an important role in directing people to the care they need.

Only 25% of adults with mental health symptoms believed that people are sympathetic to persons with mental illness. This can cause people in need of treatment to avoid being honest about their mental health.

This finding highlights the need to educate the public about how to support persons with mental illness and the need to reduce barriers for those seeking treatment for mental illness.

We must break the stigma of mental illness.

Mental health problems are not moral failings. They are common occurrences and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health disorder, please seek help immediately.