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Medical News & Perspectives
January 5, 2011

Treatment Is Lacking for Many US Adults With Mental Illness or Substance Abuse

JAMA. 2011;305(1):27. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1898

More than 45 million of US adults—about 1 in 5—had a mental illness in 2009, yet fewer than half received any treatment, according to the latest estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. These estimates suggest these disorders remain prevalent and often untreated, despite efforts to boost the accessibility of mental health care in the United States.

The estimates are based on the results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (http://tinyurl.com/3xux6u6), an annual nationally representative survey of US individuals who are aged 12 years or older. The survey excludes military and institutionalized populations. Besides providing overall estimates of prevalence, it offers additional information about populations at special risk, such as those with serious mental illness and those with comorbid substance abuse problems. Of particular concern considering the ongoing high rates of unemployment in the United States, the report found that unemployed individuals had an elevated risk of mental illness, with 27.7% experiencing mental illness compared with 17.1% of employed individuals.

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