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State of Our Minds

Edited By Susan Brink
By Marianne Szegedy-Maszak

What is the state of our mental health? That's the question that University of Michigan and Harvard researchers, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, attempted to answer in a $ 20 million survey of 9,282 Americans ages 18 and over. The results, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, reveal that in their life times, 46 percent of Americans will suffer from some sort of mental disorder like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

While most of these disorders are not sufficiently impairing to need treatment, fewer than half of those who require treatment actually get it. Mental illnessis also a disorder of children and young people. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14 and are often left undiagnosed and untreated for decades.

About 17 percent of those who do need help don't go to trained mental-health professionals, the study found, preferring Internet support groups and spiritual advisers instead. "The key point to remember," says Thomas Insel, director of the NIMH, "is that mental disorders are highly prevalent and chronic."

Copyright 2005, Used with permission from U.S.News & World Report.

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