Almost 20% of adults in the United States aged at least 18 years had mental illness in 2011, representing 45.6 million Americans, according to a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.
The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): Mental Health Findings report presented mental health data from the 2011 NSDUH, a nationwide survey of approximately 65,750 Americans aged at least 12 years. Mental illness was defined in the report as having a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder. Substance abuse and developmental disorders were excluded.
According to SAMHSA, the rate of mental illness was twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 years vs. those aged at least 50 years (29.8% vs. 14.3%). Compared with men, women were more likely to have had mental illness in 2011 (23% vs. 15.9%). Among the 45.6 million adults with mental illness, 17.4 million (38.2%) received treatment.
Results of the survey also showed that 11.5 million adults, or 5% of the adult population in the United States, had serious mental illness in 2011, which was defined as having had mental illness resulting in serious functional impairment. Among those, 6.9 million (59.6%) received treatment.
An estimated 8.5 million adults (3.7%) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, and 1.1 million (0.5%) attempted suicide.
Adults with a substance use disorder were more likely to have had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year vs. those without dependence or abuse (11.2% vs. 3%).
Young people aged 12 to 17 years who had a major depressive episode in 2011 had twice the rate of illicit drug use compared with young people who did not have a major depressive episode (36% vs. 17.4%).
According to SAMHSA, the rates of mental illness were stable from 2010 to 2011.
“Although mental illness remains a serious public health issue, increasingly we know that people who experience it can be successfully treated and can live full, productive lives,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, said in a press release. “Like other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the key to recovery is identifying the problem and taking active measures to treat it as soon as possible.”