The front page of Drudge has a dramatic headline:
'1 IN 5' AMERICANS MENTALLY ILL
The story is on CNBC and is quite dramatic:
More than 45 million Americans, or 20 percent of U.S. adults, had some form of mental illness last year, and 11 million had a serious illness, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness at 30 percent, while those aged 50 and older had the lowest, with 13.7 percent, said the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA.
The rate, slightly higher than last year's 19.5 percent figure, reflected increasing depression, especially among the unemployed, SAMHSA, part of the National Institutes of Health, said.
Dr Helen picks up on the story:
Since we are in a "Mancession" where more men are losing jobs than women, it's interesting that fewer men were found to be mentally ill, given that they are the majority losing jobs. However, it could be that men do not report their symptoms as much as women do, or it could be biological--that women are more susceptible to depression or mental illness under stress. What's your take?
When I looked at the story my first thought was: How many of these people were unhappy rather than ill? How many were feeling terribly stressed rather than Psychiatrically disturbed? Then I noticed where the report came from: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA. I have no idea who they are but have two questions:
1) How do they define "Mental Illness"? It has become a protean concept meaning everything and anything from unhappy to abusive of Alcohol to committed to violent Jihad. Loose definitions of Mental Illness serve to decrease personal responsibility and justify expanded government intervention in order to ensure treatment to all these ill people.
2) Why do we have a SAMHSA? I suspect a great many of these "mentally ill" people would do better if they could find support in their community rather than from a Psychiatrist.
Why don't we reserve the concept of Mental Illness for those who suffer from a serious definable Mental Disturbance that brings the person far out of the (wide) limits of normal human variability? I know this would decrease the income of some Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and various Counselors, but to be human is to function less than optimally much of the time, worse during periods of high stress. Pathologizing human variability and behavior is a sign of, dare I say, Mental Illness.