Blog | Friday, January 20, 2012

QD: News Every Day--1 in 5 Americans had mental illness in 2011

Nearly 46 million American adults had a mental illness in the past year, with those ages 18 to 25 more than twice as likely as those 50 or older to be affected (29.9% vs. 14.3%), reported a government agency. Women were also more likely than men to have been mentally ill (23% vs. 16.8%).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health also shows that 11.4 million adults (5% of the adult population) suffered from serious mental illness that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.

The economic impact of mental illness totaled $300 billion in 2002, the agency reported in a press release. According to the World Health Organization, mental illness accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

The report indicates that about 4 in 10 people experiencing any mental illness in the past year received mental health services during that period. Among those experiencing serious mental illness, the rate of treatment was 6 in 10.

The report also noted that an estimated 8.7 million American adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. 2.5 million people made suicide plans and 1.1 million attempted suicide.

According to the report, rates for substance dependence were far higher for those who had experienced either any mental illness or serious mental illness than for the adult population which had not experienced mental illness in the past year. Adults experiencing any mental illness in the past year were more than three times as likely to have met the criteria for substance dependence or abuse in that period than those who had not experienced mental illness in the past year (20% vs. 6.1%). Serious mental illness led to a higher rate of substance dependence or abuse (25.2%).

The report also has important findings regarding mental health issues among those aged 12 to 17. According to the report 1.9 million youth aged 12 to 17 (8 percent of this population) had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. A major depressive episode was defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had at least four of seven additional symptoms reflecting the criteria as described in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In addition, the report finds that young people aged 12 to 17 who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year have more than twice the rate of past year illicit drug use as their counterparts who had not experienced a major depressive episode during that period (37.2% vs. 17.8%).

The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, ages 12 and older.