Mental health statistics may not always be at the top of your mind, even when you’re going through a crisis of your own. Some of us get headaches when we even think about math – especially statistics. Yet, hard data based on empirical research helps us better understand the world around us and the people in it. When it comes to mental health, so many of us feel isolated and utterly alone in our struggles. Looking at mental health statistics can put our challenges into context, help us understand the pervasiveness of certain conditions, and offer some bit comfort and solace knowing we’re not alone.
And when you look at the stats about treatment for mental health — such as the fact that mental illness affects tens of millions Americans each year, but only about half of people receive treatment — you can see how these surprising mental health statistics necessitate additional education, awareness, and funding for mental health services.
Ready to take a deeper look at some of the most relevant mental health stats?
Statistics On Frequency and Prevalence of Mental Illness
Mental illness is much more common than people realize. For example, 44.7 million American struggled with mental illness in 2016. Mental illness can vary from mild to moderate to severe. This is partly why we may be unaware that those around us are battling a mental illness — it can be easy to miss. But it’s all the more reason to learn how pervasive mental health disorders are, and that there is no shame in talking about them or seeking help.
- In any given year, 1 in 5 employed adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health issue, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia
- Worldwide, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in any given year
- 1 in 25 adults, or 9.8 million Americans, will experience a mental illness this year that is serious enough to interfere with or impact major life activities
- Kids are not immune either: 1 in 5 youths (21.4%) between the ages of 13-18, and 13% of children aged 8-15, live with a severe mental health disorder
- At some point in almost everyone’s life, they will experience a mental health crisis or challenge
- You are more likely to experience mental illness than you are to develop heart disease, diabetes, or any kind of cancer
- 1.1% of U.S. adults experience schizophrenia; 2.6% adults live with bipolar disorder; 6.9% of people battle depression; and 18.1% of us experience anxiety disorders.
Common Mental Health Conditions: By The Statistics
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about particular mental health conditions — for example, that people who are anxious appear “nervous” all the time, or that PTSD is a rare condition only affecting people who have witnessed war or terrorism. It’s important to understand what different mental health disorders look like, how widespread they are, and what harm occurs if mental health conditions are not properly treated.
- Major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in America, according to the National Institute of Mental Health
- Depression affects 350 million people worldwide
- 16 million American adults reported having at least one major depressive episode in 2015
- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.
- Anxiety affects 40 million adults age 18 and older, or roughly 18.1% of the population
- Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.6% of the American adult population is diagnosed with bipolar disorder
- Risk of suicide is higher in people with bipolar disorder
- In a study from Denmark spanning four decades, 8% of the male bipolar patients and 5% of the female patients died by suicide, compared with 0.7% and 0.3% in the general population
- 30% of American adults suffer from insomnia
- Sleep problems such as insomnia are a common symptom of many mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- According to the American Psychological Association, 70% of adults in the U.S. report experiencing some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives; 20% of those people go on to develop PTSD
- PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, or 3.5% of the U.S. population
Therapy can be a game-changer for anyone battling a mental illness, whether mild or severe. Everyone needs a mental health professional to talk to at one time or another. And research has shown that therapy works, and its positive effects can endure for years. Still the stigma remains when it comes to entering therapy, and many people simply don’t go, even when it is desperately needed.
- According to a study from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, published in The Lancet, even a few sessions with a therapist can lower the risk of suicide among at-risk patients
- A 2014 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that people suffering from major depression are more likely to improve with a combination of therapy and medication, as opposed to just medication
- The percentage of medication-only visits for mental health problems has been climbing over the last decade, according to the American Psychological Association
- As cited in The New York Times, a 2005 government survey found that just 11 percent of psychiatrists provided talk therapy to all clients, a number that had been falling for years and has likely fallen since the survey
- As described by 2010 research subsidized by the American Psychological Association, the benefits of the therapy continue to grow even after treatment has ended
Consequences of Neglecting Treatment
The lack of treatment for mental health disorders might be one of the most significant crises of our time. Or, to put it another way, if we were to treat the mental health issues that affect millions of Americans, we would expect to see a decrease in physical ailments, an increase in longevity, and, perhaps surprisingly, a stronger economy. The problem is that many of us don’t understand the consequences of not treating mental illness.
- Untreated mental illness can be attributed to the majority of deaths by suicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness
- According to the CDC, 113 Americans die by suicide daily, making it 10th leading cause of death in every age group
- Research points to a strong stigma surrounding mental health disorders, a cultural mindset that often prevents people from seeking treatment
- Stress and mental illness can cause serious health problems, including stroke, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure
- Mental illness can be attributed to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year in America
- Untreated mental illness decreases adult lifespans in the U.S.; people living with mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier, in large part due to chronic medical conditions caused by mental illness
Stats like these are striking, thought-provoking, and highlight the urgency in our country to make mental health a top priority. It’s not something that can be ignored any longer. And for those of us struggling with mental illness, knowledge is power. Understanding that our challenges are real, nothing to be ashamed of — and that effective treatments toward wellness are available — is the first step toward healing.
For more mental health and online therapy statistics, visit our Talkspace research page.