Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental illness each year. It’s important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand its physical, social and financial impact — and so we can show that no one is alone. These numbers are also powerful tools for raising public awareness, stigma-busting and advocating for better health care.
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14
You Are Not Alone
Millions of people are affected by mental illness each year. Across the country, many people just like you work, perform, create, compete, laugh, love and inspire every day.
- 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
- 5.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2020 (14.2 million people). This represents 1 in 20 adults.
- 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)
- 6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2020 (17 million people)
- Annual prevalence of mental illness among U.S. adults, by demographic group:
- Non-Hispanic Asian: 13.9%
- Non-Hispanic white: 22.6%
- Non-Hispanic black or African-American: 17.3%
- Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native: 18.7%
- Non-Hispanic mixed/multiracial: 35.8%
- Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 16.6%
- Hispanic or Latino: 18.4%
- Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 47.4%
- Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
- Major Depressive Episode: 8.4% (21 million people)
- Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)
- Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
- Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
- Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
Mental Health Care Matters
Mental health treatment—therapy, medication, self-care—have made recovery a reality for most people experiencing mental illness. Although taking the first steps can be confusing or difficult, it's important to start exploring options.
- 46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020
- 64.5% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2020
- 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years
- Annual treatment rates among U.S. adults with any mental illness, by demographic group:
- Male: 37.4%
- Female: 51.2%
- Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 54.3%
- Non-Hispanic Asian: 20.8%
- Non-Hispanic white: 51.8%
- Non-Hispanic black or African-American: 37.1%
- Non-Hispanic mixed/multiracial: 43.0%
- Hispanic or Latino: 35.1%
- 11% of U.S. adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2020
- 11.3% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2020
- 155 million people live in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area
The Ripple Effect of Mental Illness
Having a mental illness can make it challenging to live everyday life and maintain recovery. Let's look at some of the ways mental illness can impact lives—and how the impact can ripple out.
- People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.
- 32.1% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2020 (17 million individuals)
- The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (6.4%) compared to those who do not (5.1%)
- High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
- Students aged 6-17 with mental, emotional or behavioral concerns are 3x more likely to repeat a grade.
- At least 8.4 million people in the U.S. provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue
- Caregivers of adults with mental or emotional health issues spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care
- Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by a U.S. adult (estimated 12 million visits)
- Mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalization for all people in the U.S. under age 45 (after excluding hospitalization relating to pregnancy and birth)
- Across the U.S. economy, serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year
- 20.8% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition
- 37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness
- 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition.
- 8.4% of Active Component service members in the U.S. military experienced a mental health or substance use condition in 2019.
- 15.3% of U.S. Veterans experienced a mental illness in 2019 (31.3 million people).
- Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year
- Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide
Common Warning Signs of Mental Illness
Diagnosing mental illness isn't a straightforward science. We can't test for it the same way we can test blood sugar levels for diabetes. Each condition has its own set of unique symptoms, though symptoms often overlap.
It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide
Thoughts of suicide can be frightening. But by reaching out for help or checking in with family and friends, we can avoid devastating outcomes.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and the 3rd leading cause of death among those aged 15-24 in the U.S.
- Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
- 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
- 90% of people who die by suicide may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals (also known as psychological autopsy)
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are nearly 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth
- 79% of people who die by suicide are male
- Transgender adults are nearly 9x more likely to attempt suicide at some point in their lifetime compared to the general population
- Annual prevalence of serious thoughts of suicide, by U.S. demographic group:
- 4.9% of all adults
- 11.3% of young adults aged 18-25
- 18.8% of high school students
- 45% of LGBTQ youth
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
2020: Recognizing the Impact
2020 was a year of challenges, marked by loss and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We must recognize the significant impact of the pandemic on our mental health—and the importance of increasing access to timely and effective care for those who need it.
- 1 in 15 U.S adults experienced both a substance use disorder and mental illness
- 12+ million U.S adults had serious thoughts of suicide
- 1 in 5 U.S adults report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health
- 45% of those with mental illness
- 55% of those with serious mental illness
- Among people aged 12 and older who drink alcohol, 15% report increased drinking
- Among people aged 12 and older who use drugs, 10% report increased use
- Among U.S. adults who received mental health services:
- 26.3 million U.S adults received virtual mental health services in the past year
- 34% of those with mental illness
- 50% of those with serious mental illness
2020: Youth & Young Adults
Youth and young adults experienced a unique set of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic—isolation from peers, adapting to virtual learning, and changes to sleep habits and other routines.
We must recognize the significant impact of these experiences on young people's mental health—and the importance of providing the education, care and support they need.
- Among U.S. adolescents (aged 12-17):
- 1 in 6 experienced a major depressive episode (MDE)
- 3 million had serious thoughts of suicide
- 31% increase in mental health-related emergency department visits
- Among U.S. young adults (aged 18-25):
- 1 in 3 experienced a mental illness
- 1 in 10 experienced a serious mental illness
- 3.8 million had serious thoughts of suicide
- 1 in 5 young people report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health
- 18% of adolescents
- 23% of young adults
- Nearly ½ of young people with mental health concerns report a significant negative impact
- 1 in 10 people under age 18 experience a mental health condition following a COVID-19 diagnosis
- Increased use of alcohol among those who drink:
- 15% of adolescents
- 18% of young adults
- Increased use of drugs among those who use:
- 15% of adolescents
- 19% of young adults
Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
People with mental illness deserve help, not handcuffs. Yet people with mental illness are overrepresented in our nation's jails and prisons. We need to reduce criminal justice system involvement and increase investments in mental health care.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
- About 2 million times each year, people with serious mental illness are booked into jails.
- About 2 in 5 people who are incarcerated have a history of mental illness (37% in state and federal prisons and 44% held in local jails).
- 66% of women in prison reported having a history of mental illness, almost twice the percentage of men in prison.
- Nearly one in four people shot and killed by police officers between 2015 and 2020 had a mental health condition.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for people held in local jails.
- An estimated 4,000 people with serious mental illness are held in solitary confinement inside U.S. prisons.
- 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition.
- Youth in detention are 10 times more likely to suffer from psychosis than youth in the community.
- About 50,000 veterans are held in local jails — 55% report experiencing a mental illness.
- Among incarcerated people with a mental health condition, non-white individuals are more likely to go to solitary confinement, be injured, and stay longer in jail.
ACCESS TO CARE
- About 3 in 5 people (63%) with a history of mental illness do not receive mental health treatment while incarcerated in state and federal prisons.
- Less than half of people (45%) with a history of mental illness receive mental health treatment while held in local jails.
- People who have healthcare coverage upon release from incarceration are more likely to engage in services that reduce recidivism.
Mental Health & Access to Care in Rural America
People from all communities are affected by mental illness, but rural Americans often experience unique barriers to managing their mental health.
- Among U.S. adults in nonmetropolitan areas, 2020:
- 21% experienced mental illness
- 6% experienced serious mental illness
- 13% experienced a substance use disorder
- 5% had serious thoughts of suicide
Access to Treatment is Severely Limited
- Among U.S adults in nonmetropolitan areas, 2020:
- 48% with a mental illness received treatment
- 62% with a serious mental illness received treatment
- Compared to suburban and urban residents, rural Americans:
- Must travel 2x as far to their nearest hospital
- Are 2x as likely to lack broadband internet, limiting access to telehealth
- 25+ Million rural Americans live in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area, where there are too few providers to meet demand
Some Populations Face Additional Challenges
- 53% of rural adults say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental health
- 66% of farmers and farmworkers
- 71% of younger adults aged 18-34
- Many rural states have a postpartum depression rate higher than the national average of 13%:
- 21% in Alabama
- 22% in Mississippi
- 23% in Arkansas
- Rural youth are at an increased risk of suicide, but highly rural areas have fewer youth suicide prevention services
Last updated: June 2022