Just over 45 million adults in America, 19.9% of them, have had a mental illness over the last year, and one fifth of them have a substance abuse disorder, according to a survey carried out by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). 4.8% of the adult population has had a serious mental illness during the last twelve months, that’s a total of 11 million people. SAMHSA defines serious mental illness as one that was diagnosed and considerably undermines at least one of life’s major activities.
The survey, called NSDUEH (2009 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health) found that one million Americans over 18 years of age attempted suicide, 2.2 million made plans to end their lives, and 8.4 million thought seriously about it.
Nearly 1 in every 5 adults – 8.9 million people – with a mental illness during the last twelve months also had a substance abuse disorder, the figure rose to 25.7% of those with a serious mental illness – about four times the rate found in the rest of the population.
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said:
- “Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed. The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord. Through health care reform and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act we can help far more people get needed treatment for behavioral health problems.”
Some other highlights from the survey include:
- 27% of unemployed adults have had a mental illness over the last twelve months, compared to 17.1% of those in full time work
- 23.8% of adult females have experienced a mental illness during the past year compare to 15.6% of adult males
- 30% of those with a mental illness with severe symptoms were aged between 18 and 25, compared to just 13.7% among people aged at least 50
- Only 37.9% of individuals with a mental illness over the last twelve months got any professional medical help
- 60.2% of those with a serious mental illness received health services, while 4.4 million didn’t
“Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings”
Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-39, HHS Publication No. SMA 10-4609). Rockville, MD.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Written by Christian Nordqvist