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March 27, 2019

Identifying Modifiable Risk Factors of Mental Health Disorders—The Importance of Urban Environmental Exposures

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York
JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(6):569-570. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0010

Mental health issues have enormous public health importance. The prevalence of mental health disorders is very high; in the United States, in 2016 an estimated 18.3% of all adults had experienced any mental illness, with this prevalence higher among young adults aged 18 to 25 years (22.1%).1 Common mental health disorders are not only highly prevalent in the United States, but also globally. The economic cost of mental health disorders is also very high, with hundreds of billions of lost earnings annually in the United States. Although the exact onset of mental health disorders is not known, and likely varies by disorder, the first onset usually occurs in childhood or adolescence. In fact, in 2015, mental health disorders were the second most common hospitalization cause for children (0-17 years).2 Identification, therefore, of modifiable risk factors of mental health disorder is critical both at the individual and societal levels.