Mental Health Facts

During any one-year period, up to 50 million Americans — more than 22 percent — suffer from a clearly diagnosable mental disorder involving a degree of incapacity that interferes with relationships, employment, attendance at school, or activities of daily life.

Consider these facts from the American Psychiatric Association (2009):

  • 20 percent of the ailments for which Americans seek a doctor’s care are related to anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, that interfere with their ability to live normal lives.
  • Some 8 million to 14 million Americans suffer from depression each year. As many as one in five Americans will suffer at least one episode of major depression during their lifetimes.
  • About 12 million children under 18 suffer from mental disorders such as autism, depression, and hyperactivity.
  • Two million Americans suffer from schizophrenic disorders and 300,000 new cases occur each year.
  • 15.4 million American adults and 4.6 million adolescents experience serious alcohol-related problems, and another 12.5 million suffer from drug abuse or dependence.
  • Nearly one-fourth of the elderly who are labeled as senile actually suffer some form of mental illness that can be effectively treated.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Studies by the U.S. Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration indicate:
    • men are more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse and personality disorders
    • women are at higher risk of suffering from depression and anxiety disorders

The personal and social costs that result from untreated mental disorders are considerable:

  • The direct costs for support and medical treatment of mental illnesses total $55.4 billion a year.
  • The direct costs of substance abuse disorders comes to $11.4 billion a year.
  • Indirect costs such as lost employment, reduced productivity, criminal activity, vehicular accidents and social welfare programs increase the total cost of mental and substance abuse disorders to more than $273 billion a year.