Overall Mental Health Needs Nationally

This post will be a fact-based overview of the prevalence of mental health illness conditions and the burden nationally in the United States according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the National Institute of Mental Health on an annual basis.

I am writing this post at this point in time to also contribute to setting the stage for delving into the many complex issues that this blog will address in its future postas and tasks. These issues will range from  the staggering seeming increase in demand for mental health services all sectors of our American healthcare system, and many sectors in which we have neglected and actually delayed or even faced the necessity to institute regular and proximately closely situated competent mental health services such as school based clinics and for adults in the workplaces. Currently in the last 10 to 15 years we have had continuing bitter reminders of the needs for mental health services in the schools by the occurrence of mass shootings both by students and by adults in school schools. Prior to that in the 1980s and 1990s we had so many incidents of mass shootings by disgruntled employees of the US postal system that it became a national meme and joke to say that someone had  “gone postal.”

So for some general figures to follow:

Approximately one in five adults in the United States, or 43.8 million, 18.5%, experience mental illness in a given year.

Approximately one in 15 adults in the United States over 10 million, 4.2% of the population, experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities in a significant way.

Approximately one in five youth aged 13 – 18 years of age or 21.4% experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged eight – 15 years, the estimate is 13% during that develop developmental age.

2.6% of adults in the United States live with bipolar disorder.

6.9% of adults in the United States, or 16 million, had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

18.1% of adults in the United States experienced in anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.

Among the 20.2 million adults in the United States who experienced a substance abuse disorder, 50.5%, or 10.2 million adults, had a co-occurring mental illness as well.

further social statistics

An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have a “recent history” of a mental health condition.

70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.

Only 41% of adults in the United States with a mental health condition received a mental health services in the past year among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.

Just over half or 56%, of children aged eight – 15 years of age received mental health services in the previous year.

African-Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one third the rate.

Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays – sometimes decades – between the first appearance of symptoms and when people first get help.

Consequences of lack of treatment

Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings last year.

Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States for both youth and adults aged 18 – 44 years of age.

Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the US living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.

Over one third or 37%, of students with a mental health condition at a at ages 14 – 21 years of age and older who are served by special education dropout – the highest dropout rate of any disability group.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the third leading cause of death for people aged 10 – 24 years of age and the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 – 24 years of age

more than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

Each day an estimated 18 – 22 veterans died by suicide.

Taken as a whole these aggregate statistics cannot fail but to impress any reader in any walk of life in this country as to the extreme importance of addressing this pressing social need that is not only going not going away but also increasing as our population and stress of life increases as well. Somehow the last 30 years of growing and increasingly neglected mental health needs, it repeated downturns in the comedy, decreased educational opportunities, the shrinking job market, the lower standard of living for almost all our citizens has had an undeniable though hard to pinpoint, differentiate and definitively separately discriminate the extent of each factors influence, towards spawning the unheralded unheralded social catastrophes and deleterious social movements such as mass shootings that we witness today now on almost a more than once a week basis all over the country a phenomena not seen in American modern life here to four.

The author of this blog may not break novel ground in each and every post or area of inquiry but will try to gather from as many reputable sources of information, and from the manifestation of novel social phenomena and movements as possible the changing social trends in their country that arise from this singular growing crisis that is almost entirely an internal problem that will require more pervasive, comprehensive, expensive, innovative, and coordinated efforts among all levels of private agencies and governmental bodies of treatment and research as a never before.






Author: Frank

I am a older child, adult, geriatric teaching psychiatrist with over 30 years' practice experience in North Carolina, first at Duke as clnical teaching faculty, then in Western NC as a primary child psychiatry specialist. I have taught and supervised child psychiatrists and psychiatrists in training and many other mental health professionals and taught at two medical schools. I have served in many public and private practice settings. My primary interest is in observing and documenting the ongoing mental health reform efforts in the State of North Carolina and documenting its sucessess and failures at all levels. My favorite pastime among many others is spoofing my friends and kids with my deadpan sense of humor.

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