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Sobering Statistics About Mental Illness

Written by Courteney

Posted on August 17, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Unfortunately, like many other invisible disabilities, mental illness still bears the weight of unfair societal stigma, even though no one has “perfect” mental health. Mental health is a spectrum onto which we all fit somewhere. So why do we have compassion for people going through (visible) physical illnesses but often only suspicion, impatience or frustration toward those going through serious mental illnesses? Perhaps more awareness is key. Let’s examine some of the sobering facts of how strongly mental illness impacts America:

  • Over 60 million Americans (1 in 4) will battle with mental illness annually.
  • More than 13 million suffer a serious mental disability such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comprise the most common mental illnesses in the United States, afflicting over 42 million Americans.
  • Rape survivors (of both genders) are most likely to experience PTSD. It affects 65% of male rape survivors and nearly 50% of female rape survivors.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition marked by extreme worry, often about inconsequential, irrational or highly unlikely things, that occupies abnormally large portions of the sufferer’s life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, GAD affects about 6.8 million Americans (predominantly women).
  • Approximately one in eight children will develop an anxiety disorder that will likely cause them to feel socially alienated, distracted at school and be more likely to participate in early substance abuse. Know the signs of children and anxiety disorders.
  • Tragically, 20% of suicide victims are American veterans (even though veterans only make up 1% of the entire United States population).
  • Suicide more common than homicide in the United States, and is the leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.
  • Depression, like many mental illnesses, is a highly treatable condition with combinations of medications and types of therapy, but unfortunately, too many people don’t get the help they need.
  • Approximately 5 million Americans have a substance abuse problem, an issue that often goes hand-in-hand with mental illness. Some turn to recreational drugs or alcohol because of the torment of a mental illness, while others may develop a mental health condition such as depression partially because of a substance problem.
  • Over 60% of homeless shelter patrons are plagued by severe mental illness or substance abuse problems.
  • According to the University of Washington ‘Mental Health Reporting’ most of those who commit suicide were suffering from undiagnosed, untreated or undertreated depression.
  • Similar to depression, anxiety disorders are also very treatable, but unfortunately less than one-third of anxiety disorder sufferers get the treatment they require.
  • Mental illnesses are often comorbid. Approximately 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with a neighboring anxiety disorder.
  • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 20% of prisoners have a history of mental illness, and a whopping 70% of juvenile offenders have at least one mental health condition.

Available Help

There are many organizations in existence to help prevent, treat or provide guidance to those suffering mental health conditions or suicidal tendencies, but unfortunately not enough sufferers avail of these services for a range of reasons. If you or a loved one is struggling with an undiagnosed or untreated mental health condition, please talk to your doctor immediately to get a treatment plan in place. Other resources you can utilize include:

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