Mental Illness and Stigma


Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Never is this so acute in American society as when discussing mental illness, the boogeyman of all health conditions. I’m not going to try to bore you with statistics, but there are a few to understand to put this epidemic in perspective (Statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health and American Journal of Psychiatry):

• 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year.

• 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness.

• Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness.

• One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by the age of 24.

• 18.1% (42 million) of American adults live with anxiety disorders.

• 6.9% (16 million) of American adults live with major depression.

• 2.6% (6.1 million) of American adults live with bipolar disorder.

• 1 in 100 (2.4 million) American adults live with schizophrenia.

• Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.

• Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earning every year.

• 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

• Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

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