How Many Americans Experienced Mental Illness in the Past Year?
New Report Includes Data on Substance Use Disorders, Suicidal Ideation
Recent data from SAMHSA indicate that 45.1 million adults (19.9 percent) in the United States had mental illness in the past year. Of those, nearly 20 percent of adults (8.9 million) also had a substance use disorder.
The 170-page report, Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): Mental Health Findings, indicates that 11 million adults (4.8 percent) had serious mental illness (SMI)—a diagnosable mental disorder that substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities—in the past year.
In many cases, those experiencing mental illness—especially those with serious mental illness—also had a substance use disorder.
The definition of a “substance use disorder” is explained in the report as abuse of or dependence on alcohol or an illicit drug.
Among those with SMI in the past year, 25.7 percent had a substance use disorder in the past year—approximately four times the level experienced by people who did not have serious mental illness (6.5 percent).
Less than 4 in 10 adults with mental illness in the past year received mental health services. Service use was higher for adults with serious mental illness (60.2 percent); however, 4.4 million adults with SMI in the past year did not receive mental health services.
In 2009, an estimated 8.4 million adults (3.7 percent) age 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. The percentage of adults with serious thoughts of suicide in the past year was 3.9 percent among women and 3.5 percent among men.
Having serious thoughts of suicide was highest among young adults age 18 to 25 (6.0 percent), followed by adults age 26 to
49 (4.3 percent), then by adults age 50 or older (2.3 percent).
In 2009, 2.2 million adults (1.0 percent) made suicide plans in the past year. Approximately 1.0 million adults (0.5 percent) attempted suicide in the past year. Among those persons, 0.8 million reported having made plans for suicide, while 0.2 million had not made suicide plans.
Among adults age 18 or older, 617,000 (0.3 percent) received medical attention for their suicide attempt in the past year, and 428,000 (0.2 percent) stayed overnight or longer in a hospital as a result of their suicide attempt in the past year.
NSDUH provides other insights into the nature and scope of mental illness, including information on those segments of the population that may be at greater risk of experiencing mental illness.
- Age. Young adults (age 18 to 25) had the highest level of mental illness (30 percent), while those age 50 and older had the lowest (13.7 percent).
- Employment. The survey shows that mental illness is more likely among adults who were unemployed than among adults who were employed full time (27.7 versus 17.1 percent).
- Gender. There is a marked difference in the percentages of those with mental illness between men and women as well, with 23.8 percent of women having mental illness, as opposed to 15.6 percent of men.
Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): Mental Health Findings is available on SAMHSA’s website.
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (November 2010). Figure 4.7. Suicide Thoughts, Plans, and Attempts in the Past Year among Adults Age 18 or Older, by Substance Dependence or Abuse: 2009. Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Rockville, MD.
In 2009, 2.2 million adults age 18 or older with past-year illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year (10.8 percent of adults with a substance use disorder) (see chart).
Adults with past-year illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse were more likely than those without past-year illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse to have had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year (10.8 versus 3.0 percent).
Adults with past-year substance dependence or abuse also were more likely to make suicide plans compared with adults without substance dependence or abuse (3.6 versus 0.7 percent) and were more likely to attempt suicide compared with adults without substance dependence or abuse (1.8 versus 0.3 percent).