The High Cost of Mental Illness in America

  • 44 million adults have a mental health condition1  
  • Only about 4 in 10 people with a mental health condition received any treatment in the past year2
  • 105.6 million people live in a mental health professional shortage area3
  • 50% of mental illness begins by age 14; 75% by age 244
  • Schizophrenia usually develops early in life and costs the U.S. economy an estimated $155.7 billion a year5
  • Depression is the #1 leading cause of disability in the world6 and mental illness costs Americans $193.2 billion in lost earning per year7
  • 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits involves a mental health or substance use condition8
  • About 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails every year--many because they didn't get the treatment they needed9
  • 1 American dies by suicide every 12 minutes10


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2015 and 2016, Tables 26 through 30, available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHsaeTotal2016/NSDUHsaeTotals2016.pdf.
  2. Ahrnsbrak et al., “Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2017.
  3. Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, [Designated Health Professional Shortage Areas Statistics: Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, as of December 31, 2017] (https://ersrs.hrsa.gov/ReportServer?/HGDW_Reports/BCD_HPSA/BCD_HPSA_SCR50_Qtr_Smry_HTML&rc:Toolbar=false).
  4. Kessler et al., “Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6):593-602.
  5. Cloutier et al., “The economic burden of schizophrenia in the United States in 2013,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2016 Jun;77(6):764-71.
  6. “Depression: Key Facts.” World Health Organization, 22 March 2018.
  7. Kessler et al., “Individual and societal effects of mental disorders on earnings in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 2008 Jun;165(6):703-11.
  8. Owens et al., “Mental health and substance abuse-related emergency department visits among adults, 2007,” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, July 2010.
  9. Steadman et al., “Prevalence of serious mental illness among jail inmates,” Psychiatric Services, 2009 Jun;60(6):761-65.
  10. Stone et al., “Vital signs: trends in state suicide rates – United States, 1999-2016 and circumstances contributing to suicide – 27 states, 2015,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2018 Jun; 67(22):617-24. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6722a1.htm
  11. “VA national suicide data report, 2005-2015,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, June 2018. Available at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/OMHSP_National_Suicide_Data_Report_2005-2015_06-14-18_508-compliant.pdf
  12. Ibid