By the year 2020, depression — second only to heart disease — will be the second leading cause of the global burden of disease. That’s why it’s important to understand how people view mental illness, and whether their view of it — and people who have it — is compassionate or confused.
Thankfully, the federal government is on it. SAMHSA announced today the publication of a national and state-by-state report based upon the results of a a survey of 195,000 Americans surveyed.
More than 80 percent of adults agreed that treatment can help people with mental illness lead normal lives.
Fewer adults — 35 – 67 percent — thought that people are caring and sympathetic to those with mental illness.
Here are the study’s main findings:
This study found that most adults (>80%) in the states surveyed agreed that mental illness treatment is effective, but substantially fewer adults (35%–67%) agreed that people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
Some population subgroups (e.g., black, non-Hispanic adults, Hispanic adults, those with less than a high school education) were more likely to strongly disagree that treatment is effective.
Women, adults with chronic disease (e.g., arthritis, heart disease), and adults who were unemployed or unable to work were more likely to strongly disagree that people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
In general, adults with mental illness symptoms, including those receiving treatment for a mental health problem were less likely to agree that people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness. Adults who lived in states with higher per capita expenditures on mental health services were more likely to agree that treatment is effective, and were more likely to report receiving treatment.
Adults who lived in areas with more mental health professionals were more likely to agree that other people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
Young adults (ages 18–24) who lived in states with greater donated media time for SAMHSA’s What a Difference a Friend Makes campaign were more likely to agree that people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
The real value in this report is seeing the divergence among the different states in their citizens’ attitudes to mental illness.
It also demonstrate the reach of PSAs and public outreach campaigns.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors, National Institute of Mental Health, The Carter Center Mental Health Program. Attitudes Toward Mental Illness: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Atlanta (GA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2012.