The State Of Mental Health In The United States

The US has a high prevalence of mental illnesses. Nearly one out of five adults in the US has an issue with mental health, and one out of ten youths live with depression. In 2017, 46.6 million out of the US population was recorded to live mental illness. 

Mental illness manifests in varying degrees and severity. According to the NIMH, mental illness is classified into two categories; AMI- Any Mental Illness and SMI- Serious Mental Illness. All recognized mental illnesses fall under the AMI while SMI is a more serious form of mental illness that interferes with activities of daily living.

Mental illness, whether AMI or SMI has severe effects on the quality of life and health outcomes. Severe mental illnesses like major depressive disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder ( which exists in about four percent on the US population) cuts down an average of 25 years from the life span of a mental illness patient.

Key Findings On Mental Health In The United States

  • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults have a case of mental illness; a population of over 40 million Americans. 
  • 50% of mental illness begins at age 14 and 75% begins age 24.
  • The mental health of Youths in the US is worsening with increasing rates of depression. Despite the growth in mental illness, a large percentage of them are left with insufficient treatment or no treatment at all.
  • More of the population now has access to Insurance, but coverage is lacking. A good percentage of youth have private insurance that did not cover mental health in 2012- 2017. Most adults still lack access to care; about 41.4 % of adults are living with mental illness without receiving treatment. 
  • Suicide among people between the ages of 10-34 has been the leading cause of death since years back 

Any Mental Illness

The NIHM defined Any Mental illness as a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. AMI ranges from a patient having no impairment to mild or severe impairment. 

Serious Mental Illness 

Serious mental illness is defined as a mental, emotional, behavioral disorder that may result in serious functional impairment that may interfere with life activities. SMI may bring about a serious burden of disability.

Warning signs of mental illness 

Since mental illness has a high prevalence, we should not get too busy to notice physical and mental illness symptoms. Our body alerts us in every condition, it’s left to us to pay attention to it. 

Mental illness symptoms to watch out for include;

  • Social withdrawal
  • A drastic change in eating and sleeping habit 
  • Long-lasting irritability or sadness 
  • Dramatic mood swings; high and low moods
  • Excessive fear
  • Excessive worry and anxiety 
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Low energy and significant weakness
  • Delusion and hallucination 
  • Change in sex drive 
  • Hostility, violence, and aggression 

What you can do

Acknowledging you need help is not weakness. It actually takes a lot of courage to admit it. The truth us, everyone should see a therapist or counselor at various points in their life. Everyone. It also helps to write out your thoughts to get them out of your head and… just out of your body. It makes a difference. A journal or padfolio is a good place to start. At every point you feel an abnormal feeling or symptom, do well to describe how you feel in your padfolio. Write down your feelings in the most descriptive way, and seek professional help, there’s absolutely no shame in that.