1 in 5 American adults suffers mental illness: report

One in five adults in the US suffered from mental illnesses in 2010, with women and people aged 18-25 disproportionately afflicted, according to a government report.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released Thursday, includes information from 68,487 completed surveys about mental illness and substance abuse. 

According to an LA Times report on the findings, people aged 50 and over had the lowest incidence of any mental illness (14.3 percent), while those aged 18 to 25 had the highest (29.9 percent).

In addition, women were more likely to have experienced mental illness than men (23 percent  compared with 16.8 percent of men).

The highest rates of mental illness were found among the mixed-race population (25.4 percent), followed by whites (20.6 percent), blacks (19.7 percent), Native Americans or Alaska natives (18.7 percent), Hispanics (18.3 percent) and Asians (15.8 percent).

The Huffington Post cited a statement by Ileana Arias, Ph.D., principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying: 

"Mental illness is a significant public health problem in itself, but also because it is associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, as well as several risk behaviors including physical inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, and insufficient sleep."  

Rates of mental illness have remained fairly stable since 2009, with only a slight uptick in overall numbers.

The survey found that 5 percent of American adults had suffered a serious mental illness that substantially interfered with their lives in year prior to 2010, Reuters reported.


About 8.7 million American adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, with 2.5 million making suicide plans and 1.1 million attempting to take their own lives.

Teenagers who experienced a depressive episode had twice the rate of illicit drug use than teens who had not.

The report showed that more efforts are needed to monitor mental illness in order to have effective prevention, Arias reportedly said.

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