1 in 5 Americans suffers from these disorders

1 in 5 Americans suffers from these disorders

One out of every five Americans suffers from a mental illness or substance abuse problem each year, according to a new study from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – meaning nearly 44 million Americans are affected by a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder this year.

In addition, according to this data, the overall national mental illness rate stands at roughly 18 percent. Oregon is the state at the highest risk (nearly 23 percent) and New Jersey the lowest (less than 16 percent). Illinois ranked at a lower risk as well, with a mental illness rate of about 16.5 percent.

SAMHSA hopes this study, which highlights the amount of people with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems, will help policy makers assess the current and future needs of their communities.

“This study reminds us how important it is to take mental health and substance abuse seriously,” says Dr. Rian Rowles, a psychiatrist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Many people don’t realize mental health can be both emotional and psychological. It determines more than just how we feel, but also how we think and act.”

Dr. Rowles says the following possible symptoms are signs you might be struggling with mental health:

  • Experiencing emotions that are interfering with your social life or daily lifestyle habits such as eating and sleeping
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Having trouble coping with trauma or a substantial life change
  • Feeling sad or anxious most of the time
  • Struggling with body image
  • Suffering from substance abuse or other addictions

Dr. Rowles says these symptoms are signs you might be struggling with substance abuse:

  • Feeling that you must use the drug regularly, or that you have overwhelming urges to take the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop taking the drug
  • Feeling the need to take more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Neglecting responsibilities and your social life because of drug use
  • Taking drastic measures to obtain the drug; for example, stealing or spending money you don’t have
  • Reckless behavior, such as regularly driving while under the influence

If you, a friend or family member may be dealing with a mental health or a substance abuse problem, Dr. Rowles says, “Remember that while both mental health and substance abuse problems are common, they should not be disregarded or seen as less important than other illnesses.”

Dr. Rowles offers these support suggestions:

  • Learn all you can about what the other person might be going through
  • Offer your support as soon as possible and remind them of this support
  • Recognize that recovering from mental health and substance abuse is an ongoing process
  • Reassure them of your continuous love and care

“Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself,” explains Dr. Rowles. “Taking care of someone we love can be stressful and emotionally overwhelming. We need to remember that sometimes we need a break, too.”

The following are helpful websites for more information, resources and support for both mental health and substance abuse:

Related Posts


One Comment

  1. Thank you!!

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.