Mental health is often overlooked because its effects are primarily psychological and unseen, unlike physical health problems. Sadly, millions of people across the United States and the world suffer from various mental health conditions in silence, as solutions and resources are scarce. May is mental health awareness month. It is also an ideal opportunity to tell the world some important, mostly ignored, yet very alarming mental health facts.
Important Mental Health Statistics
A recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals several alarming facts and statistics about mental health in the U.S., including:
- One in five adults in the U.S. (about 53 million people, making up 21% of the U.S. population) experiences mild to moderate mental illness annually.
- One in 20 U.S. adults (about 14.2 million people, making up 5.6% of the population) experiences serious mental illness.
- One in six youths (about 7.7 million people, making up 16.5% of the population) aged six to 17 also experiences mental illness.
It is also worth noting that 6.7% of U.S. adults (about 17 million people) experiencing mental illness also experience co-occurring substance abuse disorder. Sadly, many people experiencing mental illness don’t seek or cannot find the appropriate medical solutions.
The Effects of Poor Mental Health
Ignoring mental illness comes at a high cost to the patients and society as a whole. Here is an overview of some of the most notable effects of poor mental health:
- Substance Abuse – About 6.7% of U.S. adults experiencing mental illnesses also engage in substance abuse or experience substance use disorder.
- Emergencies – One in eight emergency department visits involve mental illness or substance abuse disorder.
- Economy – The U.S. economy loses about $193.2 billion annually because of factors related to serious mental illness.
- Crime & Homelessness – Approximately 20.8% of the United States’ homeless population experience mental illness, while 37% of all incarcerated adults have been diagnosed with mental illness.
- Unemployment – Mentally ill job seekers experience a higher unemployment rate than mentally healthy ones.
- Global Economy – The world loses more than $1 trillion annually in lost productivity caused by mental illness.
Unfortunately, people with mental illness experience the worst of these problems because of lacking the appropriate medical solutions. Most notably, 90% of people who commit suicide show symptoms of mental illness, while about 46% have been diagnosed with mental illness.
Solving the Mental Health Crisis
Mental illness starts at a young age, and lifetime mental illness begins at about 14 years old. Unfortunately, more than half of all people diagnosed with the condition or experiencing undiagnosed symptoms don’t receive the necessary medical care.
The report by SAMHSA reveals that only 64.5% of U.S. adults diagnosed with serious mental illness received medical treatment in 2020. It is also worth noting that more females than males seek and receive medical treatment for their mental illnesses.
Ideally, the healthcare industry and relevant authorities should lead the fight against mental illness. This entails making the necessary resources easily accessible countrywide to everyone experiencing the condition.
Unfortunately, about 148 million people in the U.S. live in designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, meaning that they don’t have easy access to mental health services. However, the authorities can change this by setting up more general and mental health facilities in these areas. The government would also need to hire more mental health professionals.
However, the fight against mental illness can (and should) start with you. Spreading awareness regarding the state of mental health in the U.S. and the world is a good place to start.
Unfortunately, the U.S. health services system isn’t doing enough to manage, treat, and decrease mental illness. It is important to highlight the plight of the people experiencing mental illness and the related effects on society, the economy, and other aspects of life to get the world to give more attention to this growing crisis.
Are you or a loved one experiencing substance abuse, eating disorders, or co-occurring mental illnesses? Fairwinds Treatment Center can help. Get in touch today to learn more about our services.