Category: Mental Health
21 Jan 2012
Some 45.9 million, or around 1 in 5 American adults (age 18 and over) experienced a mental illness in the past year,
according to the US government's latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released this month.
The survey, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), finds that the rate of
mental illness among 18 to 25-year-olds was more than twice as high as among people aged 50 and over (29.9% versus 14.3%
The survey report defines mental illness as having a diagnosable mental,
behavioral or emotional disorder based on criteria given
in DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
edition IV, published by the American Psychiatric
Association, APA, in 1994). The definition excludes developmental and
substance use disorders.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in developed countries mental illness accounts for more disability than any
other group of illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
The economic impact of mental illness in the US is high: estimates suggest it came to about $300 billion in 2002.
The US National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes about 67,500 people (age 12 and over) throughout the
country every year.
The latest survey (2010 NSDUH) also found:
- Adult women were more likely to have experienced mental illness in the past year than adult men (23 versus
- Substance dependence and abuse was higher among people with mental illness (20% versus 6.1% compared to those without
- 11.4 million adults (5% of the adult population) suffered from a serious mental illness in the past year (one that leads to a
serious functional impairment that substantially interferes or limits one or more major life activities).
- These had an even higher rate of substance dependence or abuse (25.2%).
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a press statement that:
"These data underscore the importance of substance abuse treatment as well."
However, "Mental illnesses can be managed successfully, and people do recover," said Hyde, adding that the government "is
working to promote the use of mental health services through health reform. People, families and communities will benefit from
increased access to mental health services."
She also said mental illness is not an "isolated public health problem".
It often co-exists with other diseases such as
cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, obesity and cancer. It is also
linked to risk behavior such as physical inactivity, smoking,
excessive drinking, and insufficient sleep. And if you treat the mental
illness you often succeed in reducing the effects of the
other disorders, said Hyde.
The report shows that 39.2%, or about 4 in 10, people experiencing any mental illness received mental health services during
2010. For those with serious mental illness, the rate of receiving services was considerably higher at 60.8%.
The report also mentions that an estimated 8.7 million adults had
seriously contemplated suicide in the past year, including 2.5
million who made plans to kill themselves and 1.1 million who tried.
The report also highlights some important mental health issues among 12
to 17-year-olds. For 2010 it finds that 1.9 million
youngsters (8% of 12 to 17-year-olds) had experienced a major depressive
episode in the past year. A major depressive episode
is one that lasts for at least 2 weeks and is characterized by loss of
interest or pleasure in daily activities, and which meets at least
four of the seven symptom criteria laid out in DSM-IV.
And, reflecting the same pattern in the figures on adults, the report
shows that young people in this age group who experienced a
major depressive episode in the past year had more than twice the rate
of illicit drug use in the past year (37.2%) compared to
peers who had not had a major depressive episode during the same period
Dr Ileana Arias, Principal Deputy Director of the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) said the report "provides
further evidence that we need to continue efforts to monitor levels of
mental illness in the United States in order to effectively
prevent this important public health problem and its negative impact on
If you are in crisis or know someone who is and who may be at immediate risk of suicide, then SAMHSA urges that you call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or go to their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The hotline is funded by SAMHSA and provides immediate, round-the-clock, every day of the year, free and confidential
counseling to anyone in need throughout the United States.
If you are outside the US then try this website Befrienders International
In the UK, contact The Samaritans.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News TodayNot to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
"Results from the 2010 NSDUH: Mental Health Findings and Detailed Tables"; US Department of Health and
Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; January 2012; Link to full report (SAMSHA).
Additional source: SAMHSA press release.