U.S. Mental Health Issues - Statistics & Facts

Despite what many may think, mental health problems are common in the United States and around the world. Mental health issues, much like other health issues, can be mild, but can also be life altering, affecting the emotional, social, and psychological well-being of the person. Common types of mental illness include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Although symptoms of mental illness differ depending on the type of illness and seriousness of the problem, common symptoms of mental health issues include changes in sleeping and eating habits, social withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness, anger, and prolonged sadness, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. In 2016, it was estimated that around 22 percent of those in the U.S. aged 18 to 25 years and 21 percent of those aged 26 to 49 years suffered from some form of mental illness in the past year.

Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders, with around 6.7 percent of adults reportedly having a major depressive episode in the past year as of 2016. Depression is more common among younger people and females are more susceptible than males. Disparities in poor mental health in the U.S. exist among the various races and ethnicities, as well as among the different states. American Indians/Alaska Natives report the highest rates of poor mental health, while Asians/Pacific Islanders report the lowest rates. The states reporting the highest rates of poor mental health are Oregon, Utah, and Pennsylvania, while South Dakota, New Jersey, and Florida report the lowest rates.

Substance abuse has been known to promote symptoms of mental illness and those with mental illness will often abuse substances as a form of self-medication. In 2016, around 16.1 percent of adults who reported alcohol dependence or abuse had serious mental illness. Those suffering from mental illness use illicit drugs of all kinds at higher rates than those without such illness. For example, 24 percent of adults who had mental illness in the past year as of 2016 used marijuana, compared to 12 percent of adults who did not suffer from mental illness.

Treatment for mental health issues can come in many different forms and depends on the type and severity of the disorder. Common treatment methods include psychotherapy, behavioral therapy or counseling, medication, hospitalization, or support groups. Somewhat ironically, the use of psychedelic drugs has also recently been explored in treating a number of mental health disorders. The most common types of professionals seen for treatment among adults with a major depressive episode include a general practitioner or family doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or psychologist. In 2016, around 29 percent of those who reported a major depressive episode stated that they had serious thoughts of suicide, highlighting the importance of quality and easily accessible mental health treatment. Nevertheless, 37 percent of adults in the U.S. report they did not receive mental health services because they could not afford it and 26 percent said they did not know where to go for such services.

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