Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mental Health Secrets and Statistics

It costs billions of dollars every year and claims a life every 30 seconds.  It is more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease.  But mental illness still leads a secret life because so many people keep the problem to themselves.

Because I've always been open about my family's struggles with mental illness ... frankly that's one way I keep my mental health in shape ... I know how secretive others can be. After talking about our family's situation in a meeting or at a party, I'm routinely pulled aside later or emailed the next day by someone who is facing the same situation.  How common is mental illness?  Here are some statistics from the World Health Organization and National Institute of Mental Health:

  • An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans age 18 and older have a diagnosable mental disorder every year. 
  • About 6 percent of Americans have a severe mental illness, including 5.7 million with bipolar disorder and 2.4 million with schizophrenia. (Worldwide, 154 million people have some form of depression and 25 million have schizophrenia.)
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada.
  • More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Worldwide 3,000 people commit suicide every day.
  • As many as two-thirds of people with mental illnesses do not seek treatment.
  • The cost of mental illness to the U.S. government is estimated at $150 billion a year for the costs of social services, disability payments, lost productivity and premature mortality.
  • In the United States, fewer than 55,000 people are getting treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Meanwhile nearly 500,000 men and women serving time in prison have diagnosable mental illnesses.
  • About 40 percent of the homeless are mentally ill. 
Sounds like something we should be talking about, doesn't it? 

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