Close to 10 million Americans suffer from chronic depression, bipolar disorder, or another serious mental illness. Depression alone is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States, mental illness — including depression — takes an enormous toll on health outcomes, quality of life, and economic productivity.
Despite its importance, mental illness is often poorly understood and subject to misperceptions by the general population, government officials, and even those who suffer from mental illness. Partially as a consequence, just under one-third of individuals with serious mental illness — defined as diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders that result in functional impairment — are untreated in the United States. In 2014, an estimated 44.7% of the 43.6 million adults with any mental illness, and 68.5% of the 9.8 million adults with serious mental illness received mental health services in the past year.
To determine the 12 states struggling the most with mental illness, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of the adult population with a serious mental illness in each state based on surveys conducted between 2013 and 2014 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Serious mental illness is defined as “having, at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” The prevalence of any mental illness, including serious mental disorders that may not have impaired life activities for example, also came from SAMHSA. The percentage of adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year, the share of adults who had suicidal thoughts in the past year, and alcohol and illicit drug abuse rates also came from SAMHSA. Per capita drug prescription rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. State mental health legislation and spending was compiled by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We also considered poverty rates, uninsured rates, and educational attainment rates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) as well as 2015 annual unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are the 12 states struggling the most with mental illness.