Mental Illness Affects About 10 million Adults
More than a third aren't getting help, federal study says
By Steven Reinberg
MONDAY, June 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 10 million American adults have a serious mental illness, and a similar number have considered suicide during the past year, according to a new government report on the nation's behavioral ills.
The report also said that 15.7 million Americans abuse alcohol and 7.7 million abuse illicit drugs.
The nation's growing opioid epidemic was also a focus in the report. The researchers found that 12.5 million people are estimated to have misused prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) or hydrocodone (Vicoprofen).
Despite the growing number of Americans with mental health problems, about a third of those who need help aren't getting it, said researcher Dr. Beth Han. She's from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
"These are real increases," Han said. The reasons people aren't getting the help they need are varied. They include not having health insurance and not knowing where to go for help, she said.
Han believes that stigma continues to play a part in why people with mental health problems don't seek help. "They are afraid that other people may find out," she said.
Among teens, marijuana use has gone down slightly, from nearly 8 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2015, though with more states legalizing its use, more people continue to accept the drug as safe and discount its potential harms, the researchers said.
"For teens, marijuana is a substitute for other behaviors like binge drinking," said Dr. Scott Krakower. He's the assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.
Often, substance abuse is driven by other mental problems such as depression or bipolar disorder, Krakower said. These mental problems may also be a product of the substance abuse, he said.
On the bright side, fewer teens are smoking cigarettes. And fewer teens started using marijuana, drugs or alcohol in 2015 than in previous years, the researchers said.
Mental illness is a growing problem among adolescents. Three million teens from 12 to 17 had major depression in 2015. The problem is particularly acute among girls, the researchers found.