Mental Health Facts

Mental Health Facts Mental Health Facts

What is mental illness?

  • A diagnosis of mental illness is made by professionals using validated indicators of psychological distress and impairment due to emotional problems.1
  • In common terms, mental illness can be understood as psychological distress that impairs everyday activities including work, chores, social lives and relationships.2

How common is mental illness?

  • A 2005 study showed that nearly 1 in 5 (around 4.9 million) adults in California reported needing help for a mental or emotional health problem.3

What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?

  • According to the World Health Organization, mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. "It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community."4

What does a diagnosis of mental illness mean?

  • If diagnosed but connected with services and support systems that enable their recovery, individuals with mental illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives. Research shows individuals with mental illness can attain employment rates of up to 80 percent with comprehensive, evidenced-based employment support.5

What does stigma mean?

  • Stigmas are misperceptions about people that lead to discrimination and other negative consequences. Stigma may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about mental illness or treatment. Stigma may also include assumptions that people with mental illness could be unstable, violent or dangerous because they have a mental health diagnosis.6

Why does stigma matter when it comes to mental health?

  • Stigma can lead to discrimination at work or schools, bullying or harassment and denial of health coverage for mental illness.
  • Stigma can prevent people from seeking help or set back their recovery.7
  • Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, puts an emphasis on reducing stigma so more people feel comfortable getting the support they need.

With public resources so stretched, shouldn’t services be limited to those with the greatest need?

  • The fact is we need to invest in prevention and early intervention so that more people don’t have to reach a crisis point before they get help. If we don’t turn things around by investing in early services when outcomes are better and costs lower, we’ll never have enough money to serve everyone’s needs.
  • Untreated mental illness affects all of us—causing more days of work loss and work impairment than many other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and arthritis.8

How common is suicide?

  • Nationally, suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 24 years old.9 But suicide isn’t limited to young people; in fact, older adults, particularly men older than 75, have the highest rate of suicide (42.8 per 100,000).10
  • More Californians have died by suicide than by homicide.11
  • Nine Californians lose their lives to suicide on an average day (approximately 3,000 per year). By comparison, 11 lives are claimed daily in traffic collisions.12
  • 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse disorder at the time of their death.13

Who gets help? Who doesn’t? Why?

  • Racial and ethnic populations experience inequities such as less access to and use of needed mental health services, often because they experience lower socioeconomic status and language or cultural barriers in greater proportion. When individuals from these populations do receive services, they tend to be of lower quality.14
  • Although the U.S. Surgeon General called for action to address the striking disparities in mental health services affecting racial and ethnic populations as compared with whites nearly 10 years ago, to date, not enough progress has been made to address these disparities. Recent studies show that populations in California that have the highest unmet need include Latino and Asian adults who were born abroad and Asian and African-American adults. In addition, young and older adults across racial and ethnic groups experience the greatest unmet needs.15

Mental Illness and Children

  • Approximately 9 million children in the United States have serious emotional problems at any given time.16 Yet only 1 in 5 of these children is receiving appropriate treatment.17
  • An average of eight to 10 years pass between the onset of symptoms until the time when young people get help.18

*Fact sheet adapted from California Mental Health Services Authority, 2011.


Annotations

  1. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Adult Mental Health Needs in California, November 2011, p. 51.
  2. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Adult Mental Health Needs in California, November 2011, p. 7.
  3. Grant D, Kravits N, et al. Mental Health Status and Use of Mental Health Services by California Adults. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2010, p. 1.
  4. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Adult Mental Health Needs in California, November 2011, p. 2.
  5. California Department of Mental Health, Stepping Up: Innovations in Career Development for California Mental Health Consumers, May 2010, p. 11.
  6. Mayo Clinic: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-health/MH00076
  7. Mayo Clinic: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness, n.d. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-health/MH00076
  8. Kessler RC. Greenberg PE. Mickelson KD. Meneades LM. Wang PS. The effects of chronic medical conditions on work loss and work cutback, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2001, p. 218-225.
  9. Center for Disease Control, Suicide Prevention: Youth Suicide, n.d. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pub/youth_suicide.html
  10. California Department of Mental Health, Office of Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet, February 2008.
  11. California Department of Mental Health, Office of Suicide Prevention, California Strategic Plan on Suicide Prevention: Every Californian is Part of the Solution, Executive Summary, n.d. p. 1.
  12. California Department of Mental Health, Office of Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet, February 2008.
  13. California Department of Mental Health, Office of Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet, February 2008.
  14. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, A Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General.
  15. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Adult Mental Health Needs in California, November 2011, p. 2.
  16. U.S. Public Health Service, Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health: A National Action Agenda, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000.
  17. Kataoka S, Zhang L, Wells K, Unmet need for mental health care among U.S. children: Variation by ethnicity and insurance status, The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002, p. 159.
  18. Honberg R, Diehl S, Kimball A, Gruttadaro D, and Fitzpatrick M, National Alliance on Mental Illness, State Mental Health Cuts: A National Crisis, March 2011, p. 12.
  19. National Institute of Mental Health, A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder: What are some other conditions that children with ASD may have? n.d. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder/what-are-some-other-conditions-that-children-with-asd-may-have.shtml