Facts About Mental Illness and Recovery

  • Mental illness affects 1 in 4 families, but mental illnesses fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.
  • The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
  • Mental illness usually affects individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
  • Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
  • Treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective: between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of treatment, therapy and supports.
  • Early identification and treatment is vitally important. By ensuring access to effective treatment, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

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