Prevalence Of Mental Disorders in US: Almost 30%

The Prevalence Of Treated And Untreated Mental Disorders In Five Countries – June 2003

This study was done during a time that the economy was still doing well and, by now, I’m sure many more people have been stressed to their limits.. and beyond into mental illness.

The U.S. surgeon general and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both released studies in the past few years with alarming estimates of

  • the prevalence of mental disorders
  • the burden these conditions create, and
  • high rates of undertreatment

Assessing the policy implications of these findings is difficult, however, in part because the surveys on which prevalence estimates are based cannot capture degrees of severity with great precision.

The following paper uses data from five countries to focus on the problem of undertreatment of severe mental illnesses

Serious cases are a relatively small proportion of all mental disorders, and “the probability of receiving treatment is strongly related to illness severity in each country,” according to this multinational team of researchers.

After so many mass shootings (an action that, in itself, is a symptom of mental illness), this finding alone merits immediate action. If we leave these suffering people out in the streets or even hiding in their suburban bedrooms, they can and will turn against the society that has “wronged them”.

So many in this country have been feeling so powerless for so long that resentment is a reasonable response. And then social media reinforces their frustration and fury until they are literally “blinded with rage”.

But better mental health services would be very expensive. There’s no way to implement the (bad) corporate policies that have been applied to (and ruined) so much of our medical care; no way to standardize treatment to “achieve volume efficiencies” or implement “cost-cutting” by reducing “face time” with doctors.

Such corporate goals are inapplicable when the medical “treatment” consists of lengthy, uninterrupted conversation with a highly educated and trained (and expensive) doctor.


We analyzed survey data from Canada, Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States to study the prevalence and treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders. 

Total past-year prevalence estimates range between 17.0 percent (Chile) and 29.1 percent (U.S.).

 Many cases are mild. Although disorder severity is strongly related to treatment, one- to two-thirds of serious cases receive no treatment each year.

Most treatment goes to minor and mild cases

I think this is because you can only go to see a therapist if you’re still relatively sane and functional in society. Once mental illness becomes severe, a person can no longer function well enough to navigate the frustrating process of finding a therapist, making appointments, and going to multiple scheduled sessions.

Undertreatment of serious cases is most pronounced among young, poorly educated males. Outreach is needed to reduce barriers to care among serious cases and young people at risk of serious disorders. 

Participating countries:

  • Canada, 
  • Chile,
  •  Germany, 
  •  Netherlands, 
  • United States. 

Chile is a higher-middle-income country, based on World Bank criteria, while the others are high-income countries.

All five surveys were based on general population probability samples and administered in face-to-face interviews. 

The response rates vary widely (53.8–90.3 percent) across surveys, raising a concern that the accuracy of prevalence estimates might differ across surveys.

Study Findings

The low treatment rate among serious cases is most striking in the United States, where only about one-third received treatment.

So this is where America is exceptional now: providing the least treatment to people with the most serious mental illnesses… and then there’s a shooting again.

Past-year prevalence. 

The overall prevalence estimates (Exhibit 2) range from 17.0 percent in Chile to 29.1 percent in the United States. 

Prevalence was in the range of 

  • 4.9–11.9 percent for mood disorders, 
  • 5.0–17.0 percent for anxiety disorders, and 
  • 5.2–11.5 percent for substance abuse disorders. 

Prevalence estimates for anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, and any disorders were highest in the United States, while the prevalence estimate for mood disorders was highest in Germany.

I believe anxiety and substance abuse are the logical outcomes from a culture of constant pressure and performance. Relentless socioeconomic forces are what the so-called “overdose crisis” is all about, people made desperate by their life situation seeking even momentary escape.

2 thoughts on “Prevalence Of Mental Disorders in US: Almost 30%

  1. leejcaroll

    If its mild it is hard to see a therapist unless you have the funds. for instance medicare pays for 50%, some insurers will then pay 50% of the remaining 50% so you are still left with a decent bill. I also have probmlems with what we call mental illness and how diagnosed. Just as example. I had history of depressive thghts when teenager. only dx was “adjustment rx to adolescence” a weird “diagnosis” in and of itself. yet the neurologist I was seeing a few times for my neuropathic pain was laso a psychiatrist. He put in my chart I had history “major depressive illness (resolved” nope never had that dx. When I was in the headache inpatient unit a few months back the psychiatrist interviewed all the patients. He and I spoke. He asked about some of my medications but never asked who had prescribed. He wrote in the chart as he had not seen the script he doubted I was ever given one (it was for fentynel which the neuro/shrink prescribed and therefore I had a “naracissistic personality disorder” first of all how my lying that someone gave me the meds, if that had been a lie became a diagnosable osych ailment I dont know but all he had to do was ask. “I dont see an order for these meds in any of your inpatient/outpatient records. Who wrote it for you? and the issue would have been solved.
    Nevertheless access needs to be made more available for whomever is suffering form psych issues whether mild, moderate or severe. It is pennywise ound foolish to make it so hardd for folks to access therapy services

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      You are so right. I desperately want to see a therapist for help and support dealing with the constant limitations and intrusion of chronic pain in my life, maybe even find a better way to grapple with it psychologically, but I just can’t afford it.

      I spent thousands over a decade trying to figure out what was causing and how to deal with my constant pain, thinking I’d then be able to go back to earning money. But when my quest ran into the reality of lifelong pain from EDS I realized I wouldn’t be able to work anymore. Applying for SDDI was the end of that long road, and since I can’t earn a living I can’t afford shrinks anymore.

      My spending on my health virtually stopped and now I just take pain meds from my wonderful doctor and deal with everything else myself. No more therapies of any kind, no more expensive treatments, just me living with my inevitably increasing pain. But I don’t mean to complain because I’m still getting opioids. At least those are fairly cheap.



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