- The National Institute of Mental Health reports that at least 26% of Americans experience significant psychological problems within a given year (NIMH).
- According to the Surgeon General (USSG), psychological problems are the main cause of disability, while mental health is “essential to achieving prosperity” and enjoying “fulfilling relationships.” (See Relationships in America Today).
- Anxiety is the most common psychological problem among adults, affecting twice as many women as men. It can take many forms, ranging from general anxiety to panic attacks, phobias, compulsions, and post-traumatic stress (USSG).
- Depression (fatigue, hopelessness, inability to enjoy life, etc.) ranks second (NIMH), and workplace stress has become a major cause (see How to Manage Stress for Success). Curious fact: lawyers are 3.6 times more likely than average to have serious depression.
- Most people put off seeking timely help with psychological problems and try to “go it alone” for an average of 10 years after they begin to experience symptoms (NIMH).
- Of those who seek help from doctors, social service agencies, pastoral counselors, and self-help groups, as few as 13% receive adequate treatment.
- Sessions with a trained therapist stimulate changes in thinking and feeling that are every bit as real as those imposed by drugs, but natural and lasting. (See Thinking a New You).
From the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a large survey of mental illness and its treatment in the U.S. Conducted 2001-2003, funded by the NIMH.
- Psychiatric disorders begin early in life – in half of cases before age 14 and in three-quarters of cases before age 24. On average, anxiety and impulse control disorders first appeared at age 11, substance abuse at age 20, and depression at age 30.
- About 80% of people with a pd eventually sought treatment, but often only after a long delay – the average was 10 years after symptoms first appeared.
- Family doctors and other general medical professionals provided treatment for 23%. As defined by the study, only 13% of those received adequate treatment.
- Many pd are life-threatening – consider the relationship between alcoholism and accidental death or between depression and suicide.
- Also, unlike most physical illnesses, mental illness usually begins in youth and affects people in the prime of life.
- Young people with mental disorders suffer disability when they are in the prime of life, when they would normally be the most productive.
- An untreated mental illness can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness, and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.
- “…mental disorders are the chronic disorders of young people in the U.S.” Thomas Insel, M.D., Director of NIMH.
- Prevalence increases from the youngest group (age 18-29) to the next oldest age group (age 30-44).
- 26%of the general population reported that they had symptoms sufficient for diagnosing a mental illness during the past 12 months.
- It is likely that the prevalence rates in this paper are underestimated.
From the CDC survey.
- Compared to those with a primary physical impairment, people with a primary mental health impairment were more likely to smoke, drink heavily, and feel tired or lacking in energy. They also suffered more pain and distress than those with no health impairment.
From the Surgeon General’s Report.
- “Mental health is fundamental to health” and “is absolutely essential to achieving prosperity.”
- Mental health problems are real health problems that should be addressed before they get worse.
- Mental illness is a greater cause of premature death and disability than all cancers, and all alcohol and drug addictions.
- “…4 of the 10 leading causes of disability for persons age 5 and older are mental disorders. Among developed nations, including the United States, major depression is the leading cause of disability.”
- “Americans are inundated with messages about success – in school, in a profession, in parenting, in relationships – without appreciating that successful performance rests on a foundation of mental health.”