Exploring Mental Illness in America

How Many People Are Diagnosed with Mental Health Disorders Each Year?


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), as many as 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness each year. Mental illness is widespread and often misunderstood. Because of the stigma associated with mental health disorders, few people ever seek treatment. Even when they do seek treatment, many people fail to continue treatment.

What Is Serious Mental Illness?

NAMI estimates that as many as 1 in 20 adults in the United States experience serious mental illness each year. Serious mental illness is considered a mental illness that impairs function or interferes with life activities. 

Serious mental illnesses include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Studies show that 19.4 million adults (7.8%) experience a major depressive episode each year. An estimated 7 million people experience bipolar disorder and around 1.5 million experience schizophrenia. 

Suicide Rates in America

As reported by NAMI, for people between the ages of 10-34, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. Tragically, the suicide rate has increased substantially over the past twenty years. 90% of those killed by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition. Among all adults, 4.8% report feeling serious thoughts of suicide.

Serious thoughts of suicide are more prevalent in young adults and high school students. Research indicates that 11.8% of people between the ages of 18-25 have seriously considered suicide and 18.8% of high school students. 

The situation is even more dire for young adults identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual. According to NAMI, 46.8% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual high school students have had serious thoughts of suicide.