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20 Astonishing Mental Health Statistics in 2020

By Blog

The general awareness of the importance of mental health seems to be on the rise over the past decade, at least in the US. The media focuses more on the subject, and we’re being encouraged more often to visit a professional for a check up.

However, there’s still a lot about mental illness that isn’t understood properly. For instance, it is easy to underestimate the impact it has on health care and overall physical health, as well as its prevalence across the world.

A closer look at the numbers can help us get a much better understanding of mental illness, which is precisely what we aim to do with these eye-opening mental health statistics. We’re going to take a look at the mental illness rates, which forms of the disease are most common, and which groups of people are most deeply affected by them.

If you want to understand the situation around mental health in 2019, here are mental health statistics to keep in mind.

Eye-Opening Mental Health Facts

  • There are currently over 200 defined mental illnesses
  • One in four people experience mental illness at some point in their lives
  • Anxiety disorder is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the US
  • People with schizophrenia have an increased risk of premature mortality
  • South Dakota is ranked as the least knowledgeable state when it comes to mental health awareness
  • Teens using social media are 2.2 times more likely to report body image concerns and eating disorders
  • 50% of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents
  • 20% of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental illness
  • 20% of police officers are at risk of developing PTSD

General Mental Health Statistics

1. There are currently 200 defined mental illnesses.

Many people are confused about what is considered to be a mental illness. According to the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County, it’s defined as any disease of the brain that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior.

Currently, the organization puts the total number of defined mental illnesses at 200, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia as some of the most common disorders. However, mental health is a relatively new field, so researchers frequently add newly discovered disorders to the list.

2. One in four people experience mental illness at some point in their lives.

How many people suffer from mental illness? According to statistics from the World Health Organization, the number is estimated to be around 450 million people across the world. This makes mental disorders one of the leading causes of disability and health care burden.

3. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US.

Up to 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the adult population, are affected by anxiety disorders every year in the US alone. This can include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.

Many may find this as a surprise. Indeed, mental health statistics report that anxiety is relatively little understood, which can affect how people suffering from it are diagnosed and treated.

4. 60% of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.

When two illnesses are regularly suffered at the same time, they are considered “comorbid.” In psychiatry, comorbidity is seen as increasingly common, especially in the case of depression and anxiety.

Estimates on the comorbidity of depression and anxiety range between 50-60%. There are competing theories as to why this is the case. Some believe that it’s mainly due to the fact they have overlapping symptoms, but there is some evidence that a direct causal link exists, too. According to the latter, anxiety can have an impact on depression statistics and vice versa.

5. Depression is experienced by 300 million people worldwide.

How many people suffer from depression? According to the World Health Organization, around 300 million people of all ages have depression across the world. While anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, depression takes that position across the globe.

In fact, depression is cited as the leading cause of disability across the world and is a significant part of the global burden of disease.

6. The bipolar affective disorder affects over 60 million people worldwide.

Anxiety and depression are almost always in the top two spots when it comes to the most common mental disorders. Anxiety is the most common in the US, while depression is more common globally. However, bipolar affective disorder regularly ranks in third or fourth place, impacting 60 million people across the world. This represents under 1% of the global population.

Bipolar affective disorders can manifest as manic or depressive episodes interspersed with a more stabilized mood, manifesting like wild mood swings without explanation.

7. Schizophrenia is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide.

While the rates of schizophrenia may not be anywhere near those of anxiety or depression, it still affects roughly one in 400 people, which is why it is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide, regularly ranking in the top five and contributing to the overall mental health stats.

Schizophrenia can be hard to diagnose and thus hard to study but regularly includes psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and differences in how a person expresses her emotions.

8. People with schizophrenia have an increased risk of premature mortality.

Even though this is not one of the most uplifting schizophrenia facts, it marks clearly the real risk that mental illness can pose. Often, mental illness is misconstrued as something that only affects someone internally, for example, affecting their mood only.

However, this statistic on schizophrenia clearly links the real and physical dangers that mental illness can cause. Some of the increased risk for individuals with schizophrenia is thought to be related to co-occurring medical conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes, often because medical conditions are underdiagnosed and undertreated in people with schizophrenia.

9. 36.9% of people suffering from anxiety receive treatment for it.

This is one of the more shocking anxiety stats for a variety of reasons. Despite the fact that 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety, making it a serious health crisis for the country, fewer than two-fifths of the population receive treatment for the condition.

This is even more shocking when you consider just how treatable anxiety disorders are. Treatment usually includes psychological counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy with self-management techniques, and sometimes the use of medications as well.

The World Health Organization thinks a variety of factors are to blame for people not getting treatment, and the upcoming mental health stigma statistics may shed some light on that.

10. 53% of respondents think that people aren’t generally caring and sympathetic to others with mental illness.

This statistic comes from a survey published by, which highlights levels of how informed people are on mental illnesses across states. Around 53% of surveyed believe that there are still societal stigmas around disability, as seen from the same survey that says 50% of people are quite uncomfortable when discussing mental health with a current or prospective employer.

Only 23% of the interviewed slightly agree that people are generally caring about those with mental illness, and an even smaller percentage agrees strongly with the statement.

11. South Dakota is ranked as the least knowledgeable state when it comes to mental health awareness.

In the survey, residents of South Dakota ranked their mental health knowledge on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being least knowledgeable and 4.2 being most knowledgeable. The residents of South Dakota ranked themselves 2.7 on average, while Mississippi residents judged themselves to be the most knowledgeable about the subject, with an average score of 4.2.

Perhaps the most interesting mental health statistics by state is that South Dakota is actually in the top 10 when it comes to state spending on mental health treatment.

12. 95% of college counseling center directors say mental health is an increasing concern on campus.

When it comes to college student mental health statistics, it’s important to note the increased prevalence of mental disorders. They’re above the average when it comes to anxiety, which impacts 41.6% of the students, more than 1% above the national average.

Similarly, depression affects 36.4% of this group, which is nearly 30% above the national average, as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016. As such, it’s only natural for college counselors and counseling center directors to be worried about the mental health of young people today.

Age and the different pressures of life, especially at college age, seem to have an impact on mental health. However, habits and the way we spend our time can have an impact, too, as social media and mental health statistics report.

13. Teens using social media are 2.2 times more likely to report body image concerns and eating disorders.

The research into the relationship between social media and mental illness is still in its infancy. As such, we have to rely on the results of minor studies. One such study was carried out by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and reported that spending more time on social media makes young adults more likely to develop symptoms of depression and troubles with sleeping.

14. According to teen mental health statistics, 50% of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age.

One of the most truly shocking youth mental health statistics from the World Health Organization posits that half of all mental health conditions begin by the age of 14, only to go untreated well into the adult age.

As such, they believe that not addressing adolescent mental health conditions can lead them to cause a significant detriment to both physical and mental health in their adult lives, according to statistics on depression.

15. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents.

If there were ever global mental health statistics to show how serious the problem is for younger people, then this one from the World Health Organization punctuates the point tragically.

The adolescent mental health statistics from the WHO health fact sheet shows that suicide is a leading cause of death among younger people. This is thought to be linked partially to the prevalence of depression, but it may also be related to violence, poverty, abuse, feeling devalued, and humiliation.

Indeed, the rate of mental health disorders, bullying, or other negative treatment from others can be closely linked, as shown by transgender mental health statistics.

16. Over 41% of trans men and women are estimated to have attempted suicide.

It may be understandable that people living with gender or body dysphoria may have increased chances of distress and impairment, which is the textbook example of mental illness definition. However, suicide attempts stats put them at nearly nine times higher than the national average in the US.

A 2016 study from the Lancet indicates several factors that contribute to this statistic. The characteristics of mental illness typically arise in direct response to discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and abuse.

The following veterans’ mental health statistics show how another proportionally small group can experience an increased rate of mental health disorders based on external circumstances, too.

17. 20% of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental illness.

Over one-fifth of veterans from the two wars have experienced either severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, only around 50% of the people who experience those conditions actually seek treatment for it.

There are several factors that induce higher rates of these mental illnesses amongst combat veterans, but one that is unique is that 19.5% of those who suffer from depression or PTSD had also experienced a traumatic brain injury at some point.

Indeed, physical injury and mental illness are more closely linked than many might imagine, as demonstrated by the statistics about mental health and sports injuries.

18. Over 99% of former NFL players were found to have permanent brain damage.

The conversation over the dangers involved in sports, especially contact sports, has gotten increasingly louder over the past few years. American football came into focus in 2017, when a report was published showing that nearly 100% of all former NFL players who were studied had permanent brain damage. 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE) has become much more frequently discussed since the team at the Boston University and Veteran’s Association in Boston did the study on 111 former NFL players. CTE is associated with behavioral changes, memory loss, and dementia.

Physical injury can account for the CTE shown in sports players, as well as PTSD in army veterans, but the following police mental health statistics show that it’s not the only factor at play.

19. 20% of police officers are at risk of developing PTSD.

According to mental health stats, 20% of police officers are at risk of developing PTSD, which is way beyond the 1-3% of people at risk of the condition among the general population. This is largely attributed to their increased exposure to physical and sexual assaults, shootings, disasters, hostage situations, as well as the threats to their own life that they face regularly.

The disorder may also play a role in the increased rates of divorce, substance use disorders, and suicide amongst law enforcement officers.

It’s obvious that more help is needed to address those most vulnerable to mental health issues. As such, it’s important to look at the available treatment methods. For instance, let’s take a look at some hopeful exercise and mental health statistics.

20. Exercise is found to be the most effective lifestyle change for improving mental health.

A study involving over 1.2 million people in the US found that exercise can positively affect their mental health. The findings of the study were modest, with most reporting that they experience 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health when exercising. However, working out regularly shows at least some impact, meaning that it may warrant a closer study in the future.

Bottom Line

There are a lot of mental health facts that give the kind of insight we need, helping us understand that we need to pay more attention and direct more resources toward mental health.

However, if there’s any key takeaway, it’s that we need even more research into mental health across different demographics, as the causes seem to differ a lot depending on age, occupation, health circumstances, and much more. 

Hopefully, you found the above mental health statistics enlightening. There are certainly facts that can be tough to reckon with, but it’s important to take a clear look at the overall picture to know how to best act on it.

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