20% of Americans Suffer From Mental Illness

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Mental health issues are affecting people more than we think they are. I n fact, more than 20% of the American population suffer from mental illness according to a study. The survey, conducted by a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, also found that the not being able to find work might be taking a toll on mental health.

More than 1 million adults attempted suicide. Ninety percent of all suicides have a mental health component so it is not surprising that 8.4 million people had serious suicidal thoughts in the past year and 2.2 million actually made suicide plans.

"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA's administrator, said in a statement. "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."

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The research found that more women than men experienced mental heath issues, and younger adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness. Adults aged 50 and older had the lowest level. Adults who were unemployed last year were twice as likely to have serious thoughts of suicide as people who were fully employed, with 6.6 percent of the unemployed considering suicide, compared with 3.1 percent of those who were working.

Researchers found that in many cases those experiencing mental illness, especially those with serious mental illness, also have a substance use disorder. Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. with mental illness in the past year also had a substance use disorder. Among those with serious mental illness in the past year, 25.7 percent had a substance use disorder in the past year , that is approximately four times the level experienced by people not suffering from serious mental illness.

"It's a sobering report," says Peter Delany, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA. "This is the first of its kind," Delany says of the new survey. "This is the first time we have taken a comprehensive view of mental illness on its own."

If this news sounds hard to believe, even harder to believe is that only 38% of adults with mental illness in the past year received any kind of help or treatment. Researchers hope that this study will shine some light on mental health in America.

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