Are there a lot of mentally ill Americans, or am I just crazy?
If you find yourself asking that question, odds might be more in your favor that you’re suffering from some sort of mental illness than you might think. According to the results of a new government report, 46 million Americans — or about one-in-five — have been diagnosed with such a disorder during the last year.
Taking into account all American adults, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) puts the tally of Americans having a mental illness at around 20 percent, with young adults aged 18 through 25 even more likely to be diagnosed at a rate of 30 percent.
"We all know people who have had a depression or an anxiety disorder, maybe something more serious like a bipolar disorder, but this is a pretty big number," Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies, says of the study.
If you’ve been linked to a mental, behavioral or emotional problem based on the guidelines in the last publishing of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, you’ve made the cut of nearly 50 million other Americans in similar standing. The study adds that around 11.4 million adults are victims of “serious” mental illnesses — that is conditions that affect a person’s ability to normally function.
Just because you haven't swallowed a pill or gone other routes doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the list, either. While 46 million Americans are diagnosed sufferers of mental illness, only around 38 percent have received proper treatment for their condition.
"We know with the appropriate use of medication and with good treatment people can recover and go on to lead very healthy and productive lives," Delany adds, but for many, that route is one marred by obstacles. For much of America, treatment is simply not in the budget. Of those that say they have an “unmet need” for mental healthcare, two-out-of-five Americans say they couldn’t afford help.
Such conditions could turn dire, adds the study, as 8.7 million Americans had suicidal thoughts during the last year. Of them, 2.5 million made plans to follow through and 1.1 million actually attempted the act.
"There is a gap between the need and how many people reach treatment," Dr. Ihsan Salloum, director of the Addiction Psychiatry and Psychiatric Comorbidity Programs at the University of Miami School of Medicine, adds to US News & World Report. "Mental illness is a treatable problem, and the outcome is as good as any chronic medical problem."
Unfortunately, it seems as if those that don’t get authorized treatment often try to take things into their own hands. Around one-fourth of those that suffer from mental illness are also abusers of narcotics. A separate study released last year by SAMHSA revealed that prescription opiod abuse increased by 111 percent between 2004 and 2008, with almost 2 million Americans admitting to abusing the class of drug ever year, which includes codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and others.