Ileana Arias, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the levels of mental illness in the United States are "unacceptably high" and that nearly 25% of adults in America reported having some sort of mental illness in the past year. Additionally, the CDC estimated the costs associated with mental illness in the year 2002 to be nearly $300 billion.
Arias says the high costs associated with mental illness are because of lost productivity in the workplace and mental health treatment costs. A recent article in USA Today says that we need to warn Americans about the mental health problem in our country and that we must do more to help people. There are all sorts of mental health issues from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder, with suicide being the worst outcome.
Arias says this issue needs to be addressed as there are also other chronic-type illnesses that are related to mental disorders, such as cancer and heart disease. The stigma around mental illness only adds to the problem since it is still often seen as a weakness or moral problem, she adds.
Dr. John Newcomer believes the issue is bigger than the CDC acknowledges. Many times people hide their mental problems from family and friends so there is a huge problem with under-diagnosis and under treatment. A 2009 survey completed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that almost 5% of our population, or some 11 million people, had some sort of serious mental health problem. The report found that one million of those attempted suicide.