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2016 State of Mental Health in America - Prevalence Data
The Prevalence Data tells us how many adults and youth have mental health and substance use problems in America.
The 6 prevalence measures include:
Adult Prevalence of Mental Illness
18.53% of adults in America reported suffering from a mental illness, a slight increase in percentage from last year (18.19%). While this is only a .4% increase, the estimated number of adults with mental illness increased by 1.2 million individuals.
All states that had a statistically significant change in percentages of mental illness experienced an increase in rate from last year’s estimates. These changes occurred in Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Nevada. No states experienced a significant decrease in percentage rate of Adults with AMI.
8.66% of adults in America report having a substance use or alcohol problem – a .2% increase in percentage as compared to last year (8.46%).
Southern states have the lowest prevalence of addiction – around 7.5%.
Oklahoma and Illinois have significantly less substance and alcohol use in 2012-2013 as compared to 2011-2012. Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama experienced a significant increase in substance and alcohol use among adults.
The percentage of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide is 3.89%. The estimated number of adults with serious suicidal thoughts equal more than 9 million individuals.
Not surprisingly, the correlation between Adults with AMI and Adults who have Suicidal Thoughts is strong (r=.72, p=000). This means that higher rates of mental illness are associated with higher rates of suicidal thoughts. Eight of the states with the highest percentages of mental illness also have the highest percentages of suicidal thoughts.
The only state with a significant change in prevalence of suicidal ideation over time was North Carolina – with an increase from 3.62% (2011-2012) to 4.33% (2012-2013).
According to SAMHSA, “Any Mental Illness (AMI) is defined as having a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, other than a developmental or substance use disorder. Three categories of mental illness severity are defined based on the level of functional impairment: mild mental illness, moderate mental illness, and serious mental illness. Any mental illness includes persons in any of the three categories.”
For Adult and Youth Substance and Alcohol Dependence and Abuse, the term “Illicit Drugs” includes marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used non-medically, including data from original methamphetamine questions but not including new methamphetamine items added in 2005 and 2006.
While the national percentage of individuals suffering with a serious mental illness is around 4%, we report on the percentage of Adults with Any Mental Illness (AMI). Along with the significant correlation between Serious Suicidal Thoughts and AMI (above), we use AMI because it is inclusive of people who are showing early warning signs of mental health problems – when their functioning (how well they are doing in other areas of life) is mild and moderately impacted by their mental health symptoms. Every person diagnosed with a serious mental illness experienced mild to moderate symptoms during the progress of their illness. Due to lack of treatment, symptoms and impairment are likely to worsen over time leading individuals to experience significant difficulty in work, school, relationships and daily activities. We should not wait until people reach serious difficulty before providing needed care.
Adult Mental Illness Compared to Other Positive Outcomes
Top 10 states for adults with AMI also rank among the top 10 states in the following positive outcomes. Among the top 10 states for Adults with AMI, 9 states had correlations with positive outcomes – shown below:
Adult Mental Illness Compared to Other Poor Outcomes
Bottom 10 states for adults with AMI also rank among the bottom 10 states in the following poor outcomes. Among the top 10 states for Adults with AMI, 7 states had correlations with positive outcomes – shown below.
Youth Prevalence of Mental Illness
9.86% of youth (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Major Depression is marked by significant and pervasive feelings of sadness that are associated with suicidal thoughts and impair a young person’s ability to concentrate or engage in normal activities.
In 2012-2013, America experienced a 1.2% increase in the percentage of youth who experienced a MDE. According to SAMHSA, 18 states experienced a significant change in percentage rate from 2011-2012. Among those 18 states, every one experienced a significant increase in percentage rate.
Rhode Island, Oregon, and Wisconsin experienced the highest increase in percentage rate over time (roughly +2.5%).
5.66% of youth in America report having a substance use or alcohol problem – a nearly 1% decrease compared to last year (6.48%).
According to SAMHSA, 15 states experienced a significant change in percentage rate of youth substance and alcohol use from 2011-2012. Among those 15 states, every one experienced a significant decrease in percentage rate. Those states include (in order of those with the largest % change first): New Mexico, Alaska, South Dakota, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Adult and Youth Substance and Alcohol Problems
There is a moderate correlation between percentages of adult substance/alcohol use and youth substance/alcohol use (r =.52, p=000). Utah has the lowest rates of both adult and youth substance/alcohol use. Georgia, Illinois, and Kentucky also have low rates (top 10) of both adult and youth substance/alcohol use. Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and Rhode Island have high rates of both adult and youth substance/alcohol use.
According to SAMHSA, youth who experience a major depressive episode in the last year with severe role impairment (Youth with Severe MDE) reported the maximum level of interference over four role domains including: chores at home, school or work, family relationships, and social life.
7% of youth (or 1.7 million youth) experienced severe depression. These youth experienced very serious interference in school, home and in relationships.
Wisconsin had the largest percentage change in Youth with Severe MDE with an increase of 6.4% between 2010-2011(4.1%) and 2012-2013 (10.4%).
There is a significant difference in states with the lowest and highest rates of seriously depressed youth. States with highest rates (bottom 10 states) have almost TWICE as many severely depressed youth than states with the lowest rates (top 10 states).
Top 10 states for Youth with Severe MDE also rank among the top 10 states in the following positive outcomes.
Youth with Severe Depression Compared to Other Poor Outcomes
Bottom 10 states for Youth with Severe MDE also rank among the bottom 10 states in the following poor outcomes. Among the bottom 10 states for Youth with Severe MDE, 6 states had correlations with poor outcomes – shown below.
The Prevalence Ranking indicates overall how many people in the US have a mental health or substance use problem.
The Access Ranking is analyzed by calculating a standardized score (Z score) for each measure, and ranking the sum of the standardized scores for each of the access measures above.
Click here to learn more about how we calculated our rankings.
A high ranking on the Prevalence Ranking indicates a lower prevalence of mental health and substance use issues. States that rank 1-10 have lower rates of mental health and substance use problems compared to states that ranked 42-51.
Top 10 states in the Prevalence Ranking also rank among the top 10 states in the following positive outcomes. Among the top 10 states in the Prevalence Ranking, 9 states had correlations with positive outcomes – shown below.
Bottom 10 states in the Prevalence Ranking also rank among the bottom 10 states in the following poor outcomes. Among the bottom 10 states in the Prevalence Ranking, 6 states had correlations with poor outcomes – shown below.
Mental Health in America 2016 Links
- Ranking Guidelines
- Ranking the States - Results of Overall, Adult, Youth, Prevlance, and Access to Care Rankings
- Adult Data - Adult Prevlance and Access Data
- Youth Data - Youth Prevalence and Access Data
- Prevalence Data - How many adults and youth have a mental health or substance use problem in America?
- Access to Care Data - How many adults and youth have access to insurance and mental health treatment in America?
- Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Health - Issue Spotlight
- Glossary and Citations - For Indicators & Positive and Poor Outcomes
- Print Version of The State of Mental Health in America