How Common Is Mental Illness and
What Are the Impacts on Society?
Mental illness is common, and the milder conditions are very common. One fifth of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year. One fifth of school-age children are also affected by these conditions. Severe and persistent mental illness is less common, but still afflicts 3% of the population. The vast majority of individuals with mental disorders continue to function in their daily lives, although with varying impairments. Overall medical care costs are driven up enormously by costs associated with unrecognized psychiatric conditions.
What Are the Causes of Mental Illness?
The exact causes of mental disorders are unknown, but an explosive growth of research has brought us closer to the answers. We can say that certain inherited dispositions interact with triggering environmental factors. Poverty and stress are well-known to be bad for your health—this is true for mental health and physical health. In fact, the distinction between “mental” illness and “physical” illness can be misleading. Like physical illnesses, mental disorders can have a biological nature. Many physical illnesses can also have a strong emotional component.
Are People Suffering from Mental Illnesses Violent?
There is a misconception that people with mental illnesses are violent, which contributes to the stigma of mental illness. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and the majority of violent acts are conducted by persons who are not mentally ill. They are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, and more likely to hurt other people.
In the past, the subject of mental illness was surrounded with mystery and fear.
Today, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding and, especially in our ability to offer effective treatments. However, questions about mental illness often go unanswered and
stand in the way of people receiving help.
This information and more can be found on the American Psychiatric Association’s website: