Survey Finds High Mental Illness Burden in U.S.

SAMHSA: Roughly 45 million American adults experienced mental illness in prior year

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- About one-fifth of American adults have experienced mental illness during the past year, according to the results of a survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on Nov. 18.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 45.1 million American adults (19.9 percent) dealt with mental illness in the past year, including 11 million who experienced serious mental illness. In addition, the survey found that 8.4 million seriously contemplated suicide, 2.2 million made suicide plans, and one million attempted to kill themselves.

Nearly 20 percent of those with mental illness in the previous year also had a substance use disorder. Mental illness was more common in unemployed than full-time employed adults (27.7 versus 17.1 percent). Women were also more likely to experience mental illness than men (23.8 versus 15.6 percent). Adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level and adults aged 50 and older had the lowest (30 versus 13.7 percent).

"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need, and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., a SAMHSA administrator, said in a statement. "The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated, mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord."

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