Are Mental Illnesses Really Becoming More Common?

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The past few years have proved to be a serious challenge for millions of people around the world. Reports suggested that mental illness was at an all-time high and only continuing to climb each year. Statistics published in news outlets grow more alarming as time passes. Despite the growing awareness of mental health, increasing rates of mental illness seem to show no sign of slowing down.

What are some of the most common mental illnesses? How does mental illness affect people throughout the United States? And how can improved awareness of mental health slow the spiking rates and hopefully turn the trend in the opposite direction?

Most Common Mental Illnesses

Research from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that anxiety disorders and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses.1 Anxiety affects an estimated 19.1% of adults in the United States each year. Additionally, about 8.4% experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year. These two disorders account for the majority of the staggering 22.8% of U.S. adults that meet the criteria for mental illness every year.2

Other common mental illnesses in the United States include:

Are Mental Illnesses Becoming More Common?

So, are mental illnesses really becoming more common? Recent statistics are shocking enough to look at but are even more alarming when compared to the numbers in past years. The Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts an annual survey called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Every year, SAMHSA collects data on mental health and substance use among adolescents and adults in the U.S.3 According to the past five years of NSDUH data, the following number of people met the criteria for a mental illness:

  • 2017 – 46.6 million adults (18.9%)
  • 2018 – 47.6 million adults (19.1%)
  • 2019 – 51.5 million adults (20.6%)
  • 2020 – 52.9 million adults (21.0%)
  • 2021 – 57.8 million adults (22.8%)

The number of adults living with mental illness grows each year, and, unfortunately, the trend shows no signs of stopping. Although the push to improve awareness of mental health continues, more must be done to interrupt the rising rates of mental illness among the population in the United States.

Finding Help for Mental Illness

The first step toward help for mental illness often starts with a mental health treatment program. Improving access to mental health treatment services is an important step in the fight against rising rates of mental illness. Programs like those at Pasadena Villa help people identify their struggles and develop the skills and tools needed to manage their mental health.

Anyone in need of help with their mental health has a place at Pasadena Villa. We’re here to work with you every step of the way as you regain control of your life and learn to live with your mental illness. If you’d like to find out more about the programs we offer, call us at 407.574.5190 or submit an online contact form. No matter where you are in your mental health journey, we’re here to help.




  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2023). Statistics.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).


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