Nearly 10 million U.S. adults suffer from mental illness

June 13, 2017 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Nearly 10 million American adults have a serious mental illness, and a similar number have considered suicide during the past year, according to a new government report on the nation's behavioral ills.

The report also said that 15.7 million Americans abuse alcohol and 7.7 million abuse illicit drugs.

The nation's growing opioid epidemic was also a focus in the report. The researchers found that 12.5 million are estimated to have misused prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) or hydrocodone (Vicoprofen).

Despite the growing number of Americans with problems, about a third of those who need help aren't getting it, said researcher Dr. Beth Han. She's from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"These are real increases," Han said. The reasons people aren't getting the help they need are varied. They include not having insurance and not knowing where to go for help, she said.

Han believes that stigma continues to play a part in why people with mental health problems don't seek help. "They are afraid that other people may find out," she said.

Among teens, marijuana use has gone down slightly, from nearly 8 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2015, though with more states legalizing its use, more people continue to accept the drug as safe and discount its potential harms, the researchers said.

"For teens, marijuana is a substitute for other behaviors like binge drinking," said Dr. Scott Krakower. He's the assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

Often, substance abuse is driven by other mental problems such as depression or bipolar disorder, Krakower said. These mental problems may also be a product of the substance abuse, he said.

On the bright side, fewer teens are smoking cigarettes. And fewer teens started using marijuana, drugs or alcohol in 2015 than in previous years, the researchers said.

Mental illness is a growing problem among adolescents. Three million teens from 12 to 17 had major depression in 2015. The problem is particularly acute among girls, the researchers found.

Among teens, depression increased from 2 million in 2011 to 3 million in 2015, Han said.

Among adults, 9.8 million Americans reported having serious thoughts about suicide in the past year. This continued an upward trend that started in 2012. In 2011, 9 million adults reported thoughts of suicide, Han said.

These numbers are rising along with the opioid epidemic, she said.

In addition, 9.8 million adults have a serious . That number has remained about the same since 2011, Han said.

Despite this, only about two-thirds of those who need it are getting treatment for .

Poor people have less opportunity for treatment, Krakower said.

People who are uninsured or who have insurance with large deductibles may be more likely to deal with a physical problem rather than a mental problem, he said.

In addition, wait times for treatment can be very long—up to a year, Krakower said. That's because of the lack of trained staff and resources.

"The country needs to figure out a better model so people get the they need," he said.

The prescription drug abuse epidemic also continues, Han said.

Many of these people get their drugs from a friend or relative or from a doctor, the researchers said.

People without health insurance were nearly twice as likely to have misused a prescription painkiller as those with insurance in the past year, according to the report.

In 2015, more than 1 million Americans were being treated for . From 2011 to 2015, the number of people receiving medication-assisted therapy, mostly methadone, as part of a narcotic treatment program has increased about 16 percent.

Looking for an explanation for the problems in the country, Krakower speculated that the mood of America is feeding mental health and drug issues.

"The morale of the country has been down," he said. "The economy drives a lot of people's mood. I don't think people feel comfortable in this country. When that kind of morale happens, it has an effect on people's psychology," Krakower said.

The findings are published in the Behavioral Health Barometer—United States, 2016, which was released June 12 by SAMHSA.

Explore further: National mental-health survey finds widespread ignorance, stigma

More information: Beth Han, M.D., Ph.D., Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Scott Krakower, D.O., assistant unit chief, psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; June 12, 2017, report, Behavioral Health Barometer—United States, 2016, More Information

For more on mental health and drug abuse, visit the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Related Stories

National mental-health survey finds widespread ignorance, stigma

April 27, 2017
Less than half of Americans can recognize anxiety. Most people don't know what to do about depression even when they spot it. And nearly 8 in 10 don't recognize prescription drug abuse as a treatable problem.

Mixed news on drug abuse among lesbian, gay Americans

October 13, 2016
(HealthDay)—Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have higher rates of substance use and mental illness than their straight counterparts, a U.S. government report shows.

One in five US adults dealt with a mental illness in 2013

November 20, 2014
(HealthDay)—Nearly one in five American adults—43.8 million people—had a diagnosable mental illness in 2013, federal officials reported Thursday.

SAMHSA: Prevalence of mental illness in U.S. stable in 2011

December 5, 2012
(HealthDay)—In 2011, nearly one in five adults in the United States reported any mental illness (AMI), and one in twenty suffered from serious mental illness (SMI), according to a Nov. 29 report published by the Substance ...

People with mental illness make up large share of US smokers

March 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Adults with a mental illness or a substance-abuse disorder represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked in the country, according to a new study.

Amnesia affecting some opioid abusers

January 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Short-term memory loss may be yet another price of America's opioid addiction epidemic.

Recommended for you

Brainwaves show how exercising to music bends your mind

February 18, 2018
Headphones are a standard sight in gyms and we've long known research shows listening to tunes can be a game-changer for your run or workout.

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

February 16, 2018
With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

Ketamine found to reduce bursting in brain area reducing depression quickly

February 15, 2018
A team of researchers at Zhejiang University in China has found that the drug ketamine reduces neuronal bursting in the lateral habenula (LHb) brain region, reducing symptoms of depression in rodent models. In their paper ...

What predicts the quality of children's friendships? Study shows cognition, emotion together play

February 15, 2018
Whether children think their peers' intentions are benign or hostile, and how those children experience and express their own emotions, may influence the quality of their friendships, according to a new study from the University ...

Evidence shows pets can help people with mental health problems

February 15, 2018
The study of 17 research papers by academics at the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool, concludes that pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.