How common are mental health problems?

More common than you may think. According to NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health), it is estimated that 26% of Americans, yes that's one in four, meet the criteria for a mental disorder in a given year. About 6%, or one in seventeen, suffer from a serious mental illness. Additionally, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada.

Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a time. Approximately 45% of those with a mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders. As a country we need to do a better job de-stigmatizing mental health in America. With a quarter of our population suffering from a mental disorder, there needs to be more avenues for those affected to get help.


According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 13.4 percent of adults in the United States received treatment for a mental health problem in 2008. This statistic is deceiving because it only takes into account those individuals who sought treatment for their issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18 million Americans suffer from depression in any given year. That equates to roughly 1 in every 10 adults. To make matters worse, roughly 80% of individuals suffering from depression are not seeking treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States today and is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 10 - 24.

It is obvious that mental health problems are extremely prevalent depending on the severity of the problem. Almost every single person has experienced mental health issues to some degree in their lifetime. We have all had days, weeks or even months where we are depressed or anxious. As the seasons change and the days get shorter, many people are affected by SAD, seasonal affective disorder. You could even argue that negative thought patterns such as constant complaining or blaming of other people are considered mental health problems to some degree. In my opinion, any state of mind where you are not in control of your thoughts (and subsequent actions) is a mental health problem. Unfortunately, I believe that our society relies too heavily on prescription medication as the answer to mental illness. I think it would be beneficial to focus more time and energy on figuring out the root cause of the illness and taking the necessary steps to correct it from its foundation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.