More and more adults are reporting mental health issues, according to a 2011 study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health. The study found that people who couldn’t perform normal, everyday tasks or participate in social activities because of a mental illness increased from 2% in 1999 to 2.7% in 2009. That might not seem like a big statistical jump, but that means that nearly two million more people were disabled by mental illness over the span of ten years.

More people reported that their mental health problems had a greater impact on their lives, although most did not feel that they were more distressed than in past years. Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, the author of the study, said the study’s findings could either point to more psychological distress among our nation’s populace or it could simply be that more people are educated on the symptoms of mental health disorders. They are readily identifying symptoms of mental illness; however these people are not getting the help they need.

While people are more willing to self-diagnose and discuss their perceived mental disorder, they are still reluctant to get help. The study showed that the number of people who reported seeking help from a psychiatrist, therapist, or other mental health professional went from 3.2% in 1999 to 2% in 2009. The people who had no contact with mental health services reported the greatest mental health disability.

High unemployment, economic hardships and a growing sense of isolation could be putting greater stress on the people of our country, leading to more episodes of depression and anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental disorders are common both in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26% of Americans, or about one in four adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. About one in 17 adults suffer from a very serious mental illness and mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 552,000 mental health professionals currently practicing in the U.S. That number includes 113,300 mental health counselors and about 34,400 psychiatrists. These experts see thousands of patients every year, offering help on every level – including emotional, mental, and physical help. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness, get help now.

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