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Mental Illness Affects 20% of U.S. Adults Per Government Report

A startling report issued on Thursday, November 18, 2010, by U.S. government researchers indicates that 20 percent (or 45 million) adults within the U.S. are mentally ill. Additionally over 11 million U.S. adults have a serious illness. The incidence of mental illness affects young adults, between the ages of 18 to 25 years, with over 30% affected by major depression and other mental health problems. The study found 23.8% of women had experienced some form of mental illness. Comparatively, 15.6% of men experienced some form of mental illness.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Insitutes of Health published results of a 2009 study on adults, ages 18 to 65, and concluded that 30 percent of young adults (aged 18 to 25) are living with a mental illness. U.S. citizens ages 50 and old had the lowest incidence of mental illness with only 13.7 percent of people of the age group living with a mental illness. The study found that 14.8 million Americans dealt with major depression last year. The unemployed were the hardest hit by depression but only 64% of those dealing with major depression sought treatment. Researchers fault the weak economy and record unemployment rates for a dramatic rise in the number of people afflicted with mental illness. The survey also noted that over 6.1 million Americans dealt with a mental health issue but did not seek treatment, with 42.5 percent blaming lack of insurance or financing to get the help they desperately needed.

SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde issued a statement regarding the study. Hyde said: "Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed. The consequences for individuals, families, and communities can be devastating. If left untreated, mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord."

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