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1 in 5 Americans mentally ill

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Twenty percent of American adults are mentally ill. At least, 45.9 million of us have experienced some kind of mental illness in the last year. This is according to the US government’s latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health – which does seem like an oxymoronic survey name.

The rate of mental illness among the 18 to 25 year old age group was more than twice as high as for people over age 50. The cost of all this mental illness totals an incredible $300 billion in 2002 alone. It is a financial burden which strains the nation. Mental illness was defined as being diagnosable and adhering to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders edition IV (DSM-IV). Excluded are developmental disorders and substance abuse.

The survey also found that adult women were more likely than men to report mental illness, 23% to men’s almost 17%. Addiction and substance abuse was higher among people with mental illness, 20% to 6%. As many as 5% of the US adult population suffers from serious mental illness which is the kind that leads to serious functional impairment and substantially interferes with major life activities like work and family. These adults had an even higher rate of substance abuse, more than 25%.

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde summed up the obvious, “These data underscore the importance of substance abuse treatment as well.” On the bright side she said, “Mental illness can be managed successfully, and people do recover.” Health care reform will help to reach many of those going untreated today. SAMHSA has a hotline for those who need immediate help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Source: MedicalNewsToday, SAMHSA

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