Mental illness is a topic that most people don’t like to talk about. It’s is normally something that is swept under the rug or ignored. More often than we realize, this delicate topic affects a lot of people. According to the WHO, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Surprisingly, around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. There’s a wide array of mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder; which can become a life-long journey for some. This is a serious issue that can no longer be ignored and the aim of this article is to bring awareness about this underlying condition.
10. In the United States, 43.8 million adults (18.5% of the population) suffer from mental illness such as anxiety disorders.
The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) reports that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. At the same time, approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
9. Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems.
According to the WHO: “About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures. Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people. Yet, regions of the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources. Most low and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people.”
8. The estimated economic cost of untreated mental illness in the U.S. is $100,000,000,000. This includes unemployment, unnecessary disability, substance abuse and more.
Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common causes of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
7. In the U.S., when it comes to mental illness, southern states have a higher prevalence than the rest of the country. Reports indicate that the rate of depression in Mississippi were 13.7% in contrast to North Dakota’s 4.3%.
Depression estimates generally are highest in the Southeastern states.
“We know that mental illness is an important public health problem in itself and is also associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. The report’s findings indicate that we need to expand surveillance activities that monitor levels of mental illness in the United States in order to strengthen our prevention efforts.” —Ileana Arias, Ph.D., Principle Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
6. 800,000 people globally die by suicide each year.
Whereas, 8.3 million adults ages 18 and older have reported having suicidal thoughts. The CDC Fact Sheet shows that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013. Based on data about suicides in 16 National Violent Death Reporting System states in 2010, 33.4% of suicide decedents tested positive for alcohol, 23.8% for antidepressants, and 20.0% for opiates.
5. Soldiers who have been deployed are twice as likely to have a mental disorder.
Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD, an anxiety disorder that follows experiencing a traumatic event) are the most common mental health problems faced by returning troops. According to Do Something.Org, about 11 to 20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) have been diagnosed with PTSD. 30% of soldiers develop mental problems within 3 to 4 months of being home.
4. A study conducted by the CDC shows that 494,169 people were treated at emergency facilities for self-inflicted injuries.
In 2013, 494,169 people were treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. Nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries (including hospitalized and emergency department treated and released) resulted in an estimated $10.4 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.
3. Most people are afraid of seeking treatment due to the stigma and discrimination against sufferers and their families.
Misunderstanding and stigma surrounding ill mental health is widespread. Although there is a wide variety of effective treatments for mental disorders, there’s a misconception that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions. This stigma surrounding the illness can lead to abuse, rejection, isolation and exclusion of people from health care or support.
2. Studies also show that genetics, brain defects or injury, prenatal damage, abuse and trauma, or exposure to toxins play a larger part in mental illness than choices made by individuals.
Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, studies show that it could be a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Scientists have also observed that some people who are subjected to brain injuries also suffered from mental illness.
1. It is more rampant in third world countries. Reports show that in most low to middle income countries, there is only one psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people.
According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 552,000 mental health professionals practicing in the U.S. today. In countries such as India, however, the anecdotal reports suggests that the total number of psychiatrists could be between 3,500 and 5,000; that is one psychiatrist for every 200,000 to 300,000 people. Consequently, the need for psychiatrists is enormous.