An Overview of Mental Health Statistics  

prevalence of mental illness in the US

Verywell / Laura Porter

Much like physical health, mental health can encompass a variety of issues. It can significantly impact the lives of those who experience a mental health condition, as well as their loved ones.

In 2019, about one-fifth (20.6%) of the American population reported mental health challenges, and 18.4% of that subpopulation also dealt with substance use issues, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These figures do not reflect rates of mental health challenges in 2020 or 2021.

This rate may be even higher given the stigma of mental health issues, which can make it hard for folx to disclose psychiatric challenges. Mental health issues can arise at any age for folx of all backgrounds, genders, etc. Also, note that these are pre-pandemic statistics.

Since psychiatric concerns often include symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness or worry, it can make it particularly difficult to access much-needed mental health support. Review the statistics regarding mental health issues in the U.S. in case you are impacted or need to support a loved one who is dealing with such challenges.


Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million Americans, making them the most common mental health condition in the United States. Anxiety disorders include:

While all folx may experience anxiety to some degree, diagnosis with an anxiety disorder is usually based on distressing symptoms that limit the ability to function in daily activities, like work or school tasks.


According to SAMHSA, 7.8% of the U.S. adult population reported a major depressive episode in 2019. Depression negatively impacts emotions and both the mind and body with symptoms such as:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
  • Sleep challenges
  • Appetite issues
  • Suicidal ideation


Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that manifests with psychosis for at least six months. It affects about 1% of the world's population.

Psychosis may include hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not experience) as well as delusions (beliefs that are not based in reality). The exact content of hallucinations or delusions is different for each individual.

Bipolar Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder affects 4.4% of adults and 2.9% of adolescents and refers to extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that limit one's ability to function.

Bipolar disorder used to be called manic-depressive disorder due to the periods of mania and depression that characterize the condition. This term is no longer used, in part because the name overemphasized the prominence of mania as a symptom, which illustrates how our understanding of mental health has evolved with time.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition involving uncontrollable fears, thoughts, and urges. People with OCD often try to reduce their anxiety with compulsive behaviors. OCD impacts about 1% of Americans.

Obsessive thoughts that cause extreme anxiety may include a fear of germs, a need for organization, or intrusive, disturbing thoughts. Compulsions may include counting or repeating tasks.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impacts about 6.8% of the American population. It can develop following a traumatic event, such as being a victim of a hate crime.

PTSD symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, and sleep difficulties, which can make it challenging to maintain functioning at school or work.

Mental Health America describes complex PTSD (C-PTSD) as a kind of PTSD that can develop after long-term trauma, including white supremacist harassment, queer-antagonism, transphobia, domestic abuse, etc.

C-PTSD affects people in seven domains:

  • Attachment
  • Biology
  • Emotional regulation
  • Dissociation
  • Behavioral control
  • Thinking
  • Self-concept

C-PTSD often overlaps with other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or sleep disorders.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by difficulty regulating emotions, which can make it challenging to maintain relationships.

It is estimated to affect up to 6% of Americans, and it is more likely if you have a family history of this condition or if you have another mental health diagnosis, such as anxiety.

Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders refer to serious mental health conditions that cause extreme disturbances to eating behaviors and can include obsessions with food.

Binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa are the most common eating disoders. More often than not, these occur alongside other mental health conditions. These three diagnoses are most likely to overlap with an anxiety disorder.

Binge eating disorder includes episodes of eating in excess due to a loss of control and is accompanied by distress, which impacts about 1.2% of adults in the American population.

Bulimia nervosa refers to binge eating followed by purging, fasting, excessive exercise, etc. Bulimia nervosa affects about 0.3% of American adults, whose weight can often fall within healthy limits.

Anorexia nervosa manifests as an extreme reduction in food intake, accompanied by distorted body image and severe fears of weight gain.

Those dealing with anorexia nervosa can view themselves as overweight even when malnourished, which can contribute to a vicious cycle of further disordered eating patterns. It affects about 0.6% of adults in the American population.

A Word From Verywell

If you are concerned about your mental health, it can be beneficial to connect with a therapist to better understand your psychiatric needs. While this may feel intimidating to confront, seeking mental health support early can help to address concerns most effectively.

For some folx, it may be easier to discuss mental health issues with a loved one or trusted family doctor first. They can then assist in accessing treatment that is a good fit.

When exploring options for appropriate care, it may feel overwhelming, especially given the stigma of psychiatric conditions. Despite these challenges, mental health treatment can be well worth the effort, as it deserves at least as much attention as your physical health to maintain your functioning.

It can take significant time and work to manage mental health challenges, but the benefits for those impacted and their loved ones cannot be underscored. Hopefully, as mental health continues to be discussed more openly, and treated more effectively, further strides will be made to address stigma.

10 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Anxiety disorders

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Depression.

  4. Lieberman JA, Dishy G. Milestones in the history of schizophrenia. A comprehensive chronology of schizophrenia research: What do we know and when did we know it. Psychiatric News. 2021.

  5. National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder.

  6. The Cleveland Clinic. Obsessive compulsive disorder.

  7. National Institute of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  8. Mental Health America. What is complex PTSD?.

  9. The Cleveland Clinic. Borderline Personality Disorder.

  10. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating disorders.

By Krystal Jagoo
 Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice.