CDC Report: Half of Americans Experience Mental Health Illness

If you think your arm is broken, you seek medical care. When your child’s cough and fever persists, you take them to the doctor. But when it comes to our mental health, many people still refuse to seek help when they need it.

Federal health officials are urging people to take advantage of mental health services available to them. Nearly half of Americans will have some form of mental health illness during their life, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“People with mental disorders should seek help with the same urgency as any other health condition,” said Pamela S. Hyde, administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Treatment and support services are effective and people do recover.”

According to the CDC report, treating mental illness can help patients suffering from other health problems.

“We know that mental illness is an important public health problem in itself and is also associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer,” said Ileana Arias, CDC principle deputy director. “The report’s findings indicate that we need to expand surveillance activities that monitor levels of mental illness in the United States in order to strengthen our prevention efforts.”

A 2009 survey, conducted by SAMHSA, found that 11 million adults – nearly 5 percent in the United States – had a serious mental illness within the past year. About 8.4 million adults thought seriously about suicide. One million attempted suicide.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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