Rate of Mental Illness Is 'Staggering'
25% of Americans Have Mental Disorder at Some Point, Though Many Untreated, Researchers Say
High Rates Underestimated continued...
The study also shows that the U.S. and other industrialized countries are doing a poor job of spreading treatment to patients who most need it. Nearly half of all people with serious mental illness in the U.S. did not receive any treatment in the last year. At the same time, 23% of people with "mild" mental disorders and even 8% of those with mental problems that didn't quite meet official criteria for a mental illness -- called "subthreshold" problems -- got care.
"The fact that many people with subthreshold disorder are treated while many with serious disorders are not shows that unmet needs for treatment among serious cases is not merely a matter of limited treatment resources but that misallocation of treatment resources is also involved," the researchers conclude.
Kessler maintains that putting more resources into early identification and treatment of mental disorders could prevent more illnesses of all severities.
"The resources are already in the health care system to do that if we wanted to reallocate the dollars," he says.