Recent data suggests that 19.9% of adults in the United States have experienced mental illness within the past year. Of the 45 million adults, nearly 9 million (20%) also had a substance use disorder.
SAMHSA’s report, Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use: Mental Health Findings indicates that 11 million, or nearly 5%, of adults had a serious, diagnosable, mental illness that substantially interfered with one or more major life activities in the past year.
In many cases, those experiencing a serious mental disorder also had a co-existing substance use disorder. A substance use disorder is defined as abuse or dependency on alcohol or an illicit drug.
Among those with a serious mental illness in the past year, 25% had a substance use disorder in the past year. This is approximately four times the amount experienced by people who didn’t have a serious mental illness.
Less than 4 in 10 adults with mental illness received mental health services.
In 2009, an estimated 8 million adults aged 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide within that year; 3.9% of thoughts occurred among women while 3.5% occurred among men.
Among the adults aged 18-25, 6% had serious thoughts of suicide. Adults aged 26-49 had 4.3% and adults aged 50 or older had 2.3%.
In 2009, 2 million adults made suicide plans in the past year. Among the 1 million adults who attempted suicide last year, 0.8 million reported having made plans for the suicide while 0.2 million hadn’t made suicide plans.
The report concluded that mental illness is more likely among adults who were unemployed (27.7%) vs. adults who were employed full time (17%). Obviously America’s overall unemployment rate is high, but if you are unemployed and feeling depressed, take the time to volunteer somewhere. Sitting in your house day after day with nothing to do is only going to make you feel worse. Animal shelters, hospitals, senior homes, and zoos are all great places to volunteer. The Humane Society or local shelter can always use volunteers, and giving animals attention who otherwise would have none is a great use of one’s time.
Age and gender may have an effect on mental illness. Young adults (aged 18-25) reported the highest level of mental illness (30%), while participants aged 50 and older had the lowest at 13%. 23% of women and 15% of men reported having a mental illness.
Drug and alcohol use also effects mental health. Out of 10% of adults with a substance use disorder, 2.2 million adults aged 18 and older had serious thoughts of suicide in 2009. Suicidal thoughts were higher in adults who had abused drugs within the past year over those adults who had not.
Adults with substance abuse dependence or abuse were also more likely to make a suicide plan or actually attempt suicide then adults without substance abuse.
At Apex Behavioral Health, we offer co-existing treatment for substance abuse and mental disorders. Both issues need to be treated in order for a person to get better. Many clinics will focus treatment strictly on substance abuse, but substance abuse and depression or whatever mental disorder it is need to be addressed and treated too. Substance abuse and depression exist simultaneously and need to be treated as such.