We are in the midst of a public health crisis of untreated and undertreated mental health and substance use disorders. The negative impact and consequences for individuals, families, communities are staggering.
Just shy of 44 million people over the age of 18 in the United States suffer from a mental illness. That is around 18% of the U.S. population – or almost 1 in 5 Americans.
Approximately 20 million people suffer from a substance use disorder—that’s over 8% of Americans. Almost 8 million of them have a co-occurring disorder, the presence of both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder
According to a 2016 report by the Surgeon General:
The truly urgent need in the fight against substance abuse is repairing and expanding a treatment network that is severely underfunded, badly splintered and completely overwhelmed by a lack of resources, insufficient training, and workforce shortages
Only 1 in 10 people who needs drug and alcohol treatment gets it
The existing health care workforce is understaffed and often lacks the necessary training and education to address substance use disorders
The separation of substance use disorder treatment from the rest of health care has contributed to the lack of understanding of the medical nature of these conditions, lack of awareness among affected individuals that they have a significant health problem
An estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. are living with a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, yet nearly 60% of those with a mental health disorder didn’t receive treatment in the previous year.
This is despite the fact that spending on mental health hit $221 billion, making it the single most expensive medical condition in the U.S.
Currently available conventional treatments and the dominant model of care used in the US and other world regions fail to adequately address the complex biological, social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of mental illness. These circumstances define an urgent agenda for broadening the current paradigm of mental health care to include evidence-based integrative treatments multiple modalities and implementing a collaborative care model on a large scale aimed at wellness, prevention, and treatment of specific psychiatric disorders. - NIH
Despite this strong demand and growing societal awareness of the importance of mental health in the U.S., the study revealed that the overwhelming majority of Americans (74%) do not believe such services are accessible for everyone, and about half (47%) believe options are limited. Based on the data, states are struggling to keep up with demand due to lack of funding and facilities, and, to a lesser extent, providers.
The shortage of racial and ethnic minority mental health clinicians is part of a much larger problem. Given the prevalence of mental health needs, there are not enough clinicians of any race or culture. Recent estimates of the number of mental health clinicians range between 550,000 and 700,000, which is clearly not enough when 25 percent of people in the United States—approximately 80 million people—have a mental health disorder.
The Opioid Crisis
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC IS THE DEADLIEST DRUG EPIDEMIC IN AMERICAN HISTORY - SAMHSA
Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States.
From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose.
68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999.
130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.