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The Latest Data

Millions of people in the U.S. live with a mental or substance use disorder. The prevalence of these conditions highlights the importance of focusing funding and attention on behavioral health needs.  graphic showing 1 in 5 people with mental heath condition

In 2016, there were 20.1 million people (7.5 percent), aged 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in the past year.

The rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin increased on average by 19% from 2014 to 2016.

An estimated 7.3 million of underage persons aged 12 to 20 (19.3 percent) were current drinkers in 2016, including 4.5 million who reported binge alcohol use (12.1 percent) and 1.1 million heavy drinkers (2.8 percent).

Data from 2016 demonstrated that among adults aged 18 or older, 44.7 million adults (18.3 percent) had any mental illness in the past year.  A person with any mental illness (AMI) is defined as an individual having any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year that met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria (excluding developmental and substance use disorders).  Among adults aged 18 or older, 10.4 million adults (4.2 percent) had a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year. A person with a serious mental illness is defined as an individual having any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities. AMI and SMI are not mutually exclusive categories; adults with SMI are included in estimates of adults with AMI.

In 2016, an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults 18 or older reported having co-occurring disorders. This means that within the previous year, they experienced both a mental illness and a substance use disorder.  About 6.1 percent of individuals aged 18 to 25 (2.1 million) had co-occurring mental illness and a substance use disorder. 

In 2016, approximately 44,965 Americans died as a result of suicide–on average, more than 123 deaths per day. Suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2015 for two age groups: individuals aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34.  (Source: Recovery.gov)

Myths & Facts About Mental Health

It can be surprising to find out how common mental illness is - many of your friends, family and co-workers may be silently coping with their own mental illness. There are many myths about mental illnesses. Here, we offer the facts from mentalhealth.gov.

Myth: Mental health problems don't affect me.   
Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide. Learn more about mental health problems.

Myth: Children don't experience mental health problems.
Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, fewer than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don't even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs

Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.
Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems
  • People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Helping Individuals with Mental Health Problems

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.

Myth: I can't do anything for a person with a mental health problem.
Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn't true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as "crazy"

Starting Point offers Mental Health First Aid classes in the community that will help you learn the tools you need to help someone experience a mental health problem. Find out more at www.MHFANassau.com.  

Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:

  • Higher overall productivity
  • Better educational outcomes
  • Lower crime rates
  • Stronger economies
  • Lower health care costs
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased lifespan
  • Improved family life


Adults in search of healing from mental, emotional and behavioral problems find help at Starting Point. Our care options focus on the family. We offer treatment for trauma, depression, substance abuse, anger management, and more.

We also offer a unique, medically-managed program for people with alcohol and drug dependence issues. Our plans help treat for alcohol and all opiates, including pain killers and methadone. This program uses both doctors and therapists to help with recovery.

Starting Point also works with law enforcement to provide programs for those in jail and mental health court, providing an alternative that keeps clients out of the justice system while addressing their mental health and substance abuse issues.

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