Two news stories over the long holiday weekend made the rounds about the prevalence of mental disorders in Americans and Europeans. Virtually all the news stories I’ve read completely missed important information contained within the actual reports, instead doing more reporting on the news release rather than the research itself.
I previously wrote about the CDC’s report, which contrary to headlines in newspapers such as USA Today, HealthDay, the International Business Times and others, did not report on any new data that “half of Americans will suffer from mental disorders” (data that comes from a 2004 study — 7-year old news anyone?). Approximately 25 percent of Americans may have a mental disorder — as measured by the CDC surveys — in any given year.
The European study was based upon actual research and suggested that today, up to 38 percent of Europeans may be suffering from a mental disorder — a seeming 50 percent increase over Americans. The two datasets are not directly comparable, however, since they used different methodology to arrive at their numbers.
But it appears only a few reporters bothered to read the study before reporting on it, because many simply reported on the European study with little context or understanding of its data.
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