15 Unbelievable Facts About Mental Health

Do you know how many people suffer from mental illness? More than you would think!

For those that live with depression or anxiety or another condition, it seems that we are alone in our suffering. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can read more about what depression is like with the linked blog post.

15 Unbelievable Facts About Mental Health

(Credit: “15 Facts About Mental Health You Should Know.

•According to the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, 1 in 5 people in the US live with some form of mental health condition. 1 in 25 people have a “serious” condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Every time I see these statistics, I cannot believe it. I’ve lived with depression for going on 25 years, and bipolar disorder for 10 years. So, I can relate to how isolated so many people feel. There are days when I feel like my experience is so awful it has to be the only one like it.

But really, if I stand in a room with 99 other people, 20 of us have some form of depression or anxiety. 4 of us have a similar experience to me. That is a really powerful mental image!

•Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds. 41,000 people die of suicide annually in the US. Globally, that number is over 800,000.

That makes me so unbelievably sad. If you break that down, that means in the United States 3,416 people commit suicide each month. That is around 113 people a day, which is nearly 5 people an hour.

I have been suicidal in the past and I know how it feels to want to die. It is not a gimmick. It is not a way to get attention. Being suicidal is a place of dark despair. It is like falling into a pit without a rope or ladder to use to climb out. It is not a joke. Suicide is a very serious problem.

Did you know…?

•If you have been to war or lived through a major disaster, your chances are twice as high of having a mental illness.

I absolutely believe it. I am very grateful that I have never lived through anything like that. That being said, I have faced trauma through the tragic death of a loved one. I am sure things like that fall under this umbrella too.

•People with mental illness get a bad reputation for being violent but that is simply not true! Only 3-5% of violent acts are caused by the mentally ill.

It always makes me so sad that this is such a common misconception about mental illness. I may have bipolar disorder but I am not a violent person, and have never had violent tendencies (apart from periods of suicidal ideation.)

This is a stigma we need to break. The mentally ill aren’t just people who commit mass shootings, or murder a co-worker, or commit acts of sexual violence. We are the people next door, just trying to live our lives. Too often, that truth gets lost somehow.

•Mental illness is caused by genetics, physical illness/injury, or trauma.

Mine was certainly triggered by the death of my cousin. Or, I should say, specifically, to the emotional environment I was surrounded by following his death.

I am also predisposed to it genetically. Both of my parents have been treated for depression.

This fact is one of the most important ones on the list. It shows that mental illness is caused by something. It is not something a person chooses.

Did you know…?

•There is such a stigma still attached to mental illness that only 44% of people with mental health conditions seek treatment.

I believe this, because I see the stigma all around me. Friends who keep their distance, family members who treat you with kid gloves…

The stigma is real. And it hurts people. This makes them not want to be treated. Be treated gives you a label you can’t escape from. It’s like admitting an embarrassing truth about yourself.

•Treatment for depression isn’t just meds! There is also therapy which is very effective, but also more alternative treatments (yoga, meditation, etc)

I like to say that my treatment plan is a mix of east meets west. I take my meds and go to therapy, but I also exercise and use essential oils to be proactive about my health.

Neither way is technically “correct.” You have to find what works for you, and commit to it every day.

•It is possible to prevent many cases of mental illness by addressing certain risk factors like trauma.

Trauma is not my area of specialty in writing about mental health because my trauma (the death of my cousin) is something I have never fully addressed in therapy.

However, I think it is certainly possible that with better resources for those that have been victims of trauma, we could see less instances of serious mental health.

Did you know…?

•According to the aforementioned article, “Improving mental health services in low- to medium-income countries is not as costly as some may think. An investment of only $2-4 per capita would have a major impact on millions of lives.”

If every person in the US contributed $2-4, there would be such an amazing ripple effect. Resources could be created, people could be helped, those people could turn around and help others.

Why are we not doing this?

•The US sees $200 billion in lost earnings every year because of serious mental illness.

Many people who are mentally ill cannot work. This is for a variety of reasons. One of them being that depression can lead to physical complaints. It also weakens your immune system. So, mental illness can lead to physical illness, and both can result in an inability to function properly in a professional environment.

When someone can’t work, that changes the company’s financial dynamic. Often times that means they are short staffed, which lowers productivity, and lowers potential profits.

Another way to interpret this is that mental ill people miss a total of $200 billion in earnings, which affects taxes.

•Half of the adults in the US that struggle with substance abuse are mentally ill.

Substance abuse can lead to a lot of extenuating circumstances that could contribute to issues with mental health. For instance, loneliness due to strained family relations. Or financial stress due to a lost job.

Whatever the case, substance abuse and mental illness make excellent bedfellows.

Did you know…?

•20% of young people have a mental health condition

My mental illness definitely started when I was young. There is so much pressure to develop and grow a certain way. Sometimes it is massively overwhelming. There is the pressure to fit in, and get good grades, and get your first job.

No wonder kids need a bunch of extra support!

•If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you are twice as likely to have a mental illness.

Unfortunately, there is still so much stigma that exists surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. Partly this is because people fear what they do not understand. They do not take the time to understand people living through this journey, so they consider it “bad” or “wrong.”

This can lead the person going through it feeling misunderstood and alone. It is not surprising how prevalent mental health issues are.

•70-90% of people who seek treatment get better.

Keep in mind, there is no cure for mental illness. However, if you take the first step of getting treatment, chances are you can feel well enough to lead a fulfilling life.

Last but not least: most people living with mental illness lead productive lives despite their challenges.


These facts about mental health can be pretty daunting. Which one did you find most interesting? Let me know in the comments below!

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56 thoughts on “15 Unbelievable Facts About Mental Health”

  1. I love that you are spreading your story and information about mental health. Mental health is such a *taboo* topic that people are afraid to discuss it. Thanks for bringing light to such an important conversation.

  2. Thank you for starting this conversation! It’s a little crazy to think about how little it would take from each of us to have the resources necessary to provide help to SO many people. When you break it down like that, it really makes you wonder why there isn’t more being done. Right?

    1. Hey Britt, it definitely makes you wonder where the government’s priorities lie. It makes me sound like I have my tin foil hat on, but it is way more profitable for them to keep people sick. (Whether it be cancer, or mental illness, etc.) Hmmmm….. Thanks for reading!

  3. I know of a few people who suffer from mental illnesses. It can be really difficult to talk about too. I’m glad that you were able to write this up. It’s nice to see others talking about it more.

  4. I knew so many of these and yet they still shook me.
    In regards to being through war and experiencing mental illness – I can second this. The whole country where I live is just trauma, layered on trauma, layered on religious trauma.

    1. Hey there, yeah that sounds a lot like what we as Americans hear about your country too. We are kind of heading there too I feel like. It’s really hard, and I hope things slowly start to change for us in November 😉 😉

  5. I always feel frustrated that the news seems to report that a person has a “history of mental illness” if they commit a violent crime. Like you pointed out, it sends the wrong message about people who have a mental illness.

    1. Hey Beth, I feel the same way! People with mental health are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime. And considering how many people have mental illness (about 1 in 25) it makes sense that some people who commit crimes have mental illness. Doesn’t mean the two are related. Thanks so much for reading!

  6. I think the current pandemic is traumatic enough to cause mental illness, for sure. It’s really hard to cope with everything going on around us. Support is so important!

    1. Hey Laura, I think so too. Even mental health bloggers like me have been struggling to keep up with the constantly changes and chaos. Take care and thanks for reading!

  7. It breaks my heart that the suicide rate is so high in young people! I really hope that as more people are open about depression and mental health, we can find support and help, instead of shame.

  8. I am working on a project and this fact “The US sees $200 billion in lost earnings every year because of serious mental illness” is definitely going to be a justification for why my project is relevant!! Thank you!!

  9. What an incredibly powerful post!

    I was both amazed and shocked in equal measure. I wonder if there will ever come a day where everyone takes Mental health as seriously as they should.

    Thank you Jen for sharing and continuing to open our eyes x x

  10. This is an absolutely wonderful post! Thank you, thank you, thank you for informing people of the realities of mental illness and the impact it has on a personal, and on a more societal level. I’m surprised to hear that only 1 in 5 people in the US have a mental illness of some kind, I feel as if it’s more. But the more we talk about it, the more we reduce the stigma around it, and the more we reduce the stigma, the more people get the appropriate help they need to manage their mental illness. This is a cause near and dear to my heart, so thank you for this.

    1. Hey Carolyn, it surprises me too that it isn’t higher. I wonder how many people never speak up. I hope I have the courage to always stay open, and that inspires other to open up as well. Thanks for reading!

  11. These are certainly mind-blowing facts about mental health!
    Indeed there is still a stigma attached to mental health. Thank you for this insightful information and for helping to stop the stigma.

  12. Pam Wattenbarger

    I suffer from depression and knew it was a common problem. But I never thought of it in terms of if I am in a room with 99 other people, 20 more would be like me! It’s a shame there is still a stigma attached to it.

    1. Hey Pam, I don’t get it either. It is literally everywhere. That’s like not being wanting to admit you have diabetes or heart disease or something else equally common. Thanks for reading!

  13. Thanks for talking it out. The issue of mental health and the stigmas attached to it need to be talked and addressed on priority basis. Let’s do our part by spreading the awareness so that more and more people try to come out and seek help.

  14. Thank you for this extensive post. It is sad but mental illness is real and the stigma still exists. As a mental health nurse, I have seen it over and over not just in the community but also among the professionals. The sad part is that the stigma prevents the person from getting actual much needed help. Thank you for coming out in the open.
    As I keep saying, mental illness is not a life sentence. There is hope. There is recovery. There is life after the diagnosis. Seek help when you can. Look out for the symptoms and support your loved ones who suffer

    1. Hey Anitha, thank you so much for your kind response. I’m sure you have seen a lot over the years. Thank you for reading, and for doing what you do on a daily basis!

  15. Wow! Great post. You really lay out the enormity of the situation. I also thought you did an effective job of breaking down certain statistics to allow them to resonate more fully; especially with suicide. That was remarkable. I sometimes wonder if mental health situations are more prevalent today than in the past; or if we are just diagnosing mental health challenges more readily now. Any thoughts?


  16. As someone who has dealt with my own mental health issues, and of those close to me, thank you for bringing awareness and helping to stop the stigma.

    1. It was so nice to read that 70-90% of people get better! I feel like that’s rarely talked about. Theres such a stigma about mental health but no one seems to talk about the possibilities to “recover”… if that makes sense.

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