One In Five American Adults Experienced Mental Illness in the Last Year, Report Says

January 19, 2012 Updated Jan 19, 2012 at 1:01 PM EDT

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One In Five American Adults Experienced Mental Illness in the Last Year, Report Says

January 19, 2012 Updated Jan 19, 2012 at 1:01 PM EDT

A report released Thursday  by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that 45.9 million Americans ages 18 or older -- approximately 20 percent of this age group -- experienced mental illness within the past year.

According to the SAMHSA news release:

The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 (29.9 percent) than among those aged 50 and older (14.3 percent). Adult women were also more likely than men to have experienced mental illness in the past year (23 percent versus 16.8 percent). 

Mental illness among adults aged 18 or older is defined as having had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders) in the past year, based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1994).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health also shows that 11.4 million adults (5 percent of the adult population) suffered from serious mental illness in the past year. Serious mental illness is defined as one that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.

“Mental illnesses can be managed successfully, and people do recover,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Mental illness is not an isolated public health problem. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity often co-exist with mental illness and treatment of the mental illness can reduce the effects of these disorders. The Obama Administration is working to promote the use of mental health services through health reform. People, families and communities will benefit from increased access to mental health services.” 

Read the entire SAMHSA news release HERE.