Mental Health Facts
Mental Health Facts

43 Important Mental Health Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published October 30, 2020
  • Worldwide, a minimum of one person in five will experience a mental disorder during their lifetime.[6]
  • In terms of taking the greatest toll on a person’s life, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder are considered three of the most disruptive mental health disorders overall.[6]
  • Although there are still many stigmas that surround certain mental health problems, several recent reports say that such stigmas are on the decline, at least in developed nations.[6]
  • The World Health Organization has declared depression to be the number one cause of shortened life due to a disability.[6]
  • The two most common diagnostic manuals used by professionals to identify mental health disorders are the ones published by the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association (also known as the ICD and the DSM).[6]
  • The World Health Organization's list of mental health problems currently identifies 99 different types, many of which are further subdivided into varying forms of manifestation.[6]
  • Mental health problems so severe that they result in a break with reality are collectively called "psychoses."[6]
  • Geneticists have been unable to distinguish between the genes for certain mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, leading some to question the accuracy of current methods of classification.[6]
  • Depression Facts
    Depression is one of the most common and debilitating mental illnesses
  • Depression is responsible for more missed work hours than arthritis or cancer.[6]
  • The body's supply of serotonin, the hormone involved in the regulation of  a person's mood, is actually located in the gastro-intestinal tract rather than the brain.[6]
  • There are accurate descriptions of the symptoms of schizophrenia in writings that are thousands of years old.[6]
  • Researchers have identified some surprising causes that increase the likelihood of schizophrenic disorder, such as premature birth or being born in the winter.[6]
  • Evidence suggests that there is an association between a predisposition to smoking marijuana and the risk of developing schizophrenia.[6]
  • The word "depression" does not have a linguistic equivalent in many of the world's cultures.[6]
  • Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is caused by the decrease in the amount of natural light during fall and winter months and can be treated using artificial light sources that mimic the effects of sunlight.[6]
  • Doctors and researchers developed anti-depressant drugs in the 1950s, when they noticed certain tuberculosis prescriptions were improving their patients' moods.[6]
  • Asylums in the 18th century often prescribed ice baths, restraints, and isolation for mentally ill patients.[9]
  • History of Insanity
    Early "madhouses" were generally horrific places

  • In spite of major advancements in mental healthcare, the numbers of people suffering from depression and anxiety were at an all-time high at the beginning of the 21st century.[3]
  • The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health was created in 2004 by former US President George W. Bush.[3]
  • "Therapism" is a term for the perception that most people suffer various degrees of a lack of mental health and require treatment from psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, or coaches.[3]
  • The modern mental health industry began in 18th-century England, where privately run "madhouses," usually staffed with physicians, began to be licensed by the government.[3]
  • A physician wrote in 1702 that “vapours,” a term describing fits of anxiety or fear, was the most common form of mental distress or illness.[3]
  • The word “neurosis” was coined by Scottish physician William Cullen in 1777.[3]
  • Mental health experts have linked gratitude to increased mental health. According to research, the best method for improving your sense of well-being through thankfulness is by writing in a gratitude journal on a regular basis.[4]
  • Exercise contributes to mental health because it causes the release of endorphins, which can both relieve stress and improve mood.[4]
  • Van Gogh Bipolar
    Van Gogh exhibited both extremes: intense creative energy and deep depression
  • Many experts suspect that artist Vincent Van Gogh and author Virginia Woolf both suffered from bipolar disorder.[1]
  • Spending time in sunlight helps your body make vitamin D, which, in turn, increases the brain's level of serotonin.[4]
  • Serotonin is a chemical that, at high enough levels, has a calming influence on a person's mood.[4]
  • Lending other people a helping hand has been shown to improve one's own self-esteem.[4]
  • The psychiatrist who developed the practice of lobotomy—cutting into the brain in an attempt to stop the disruptive effects of mental illness—received a Nobel Prize for his work.[9]
  • Electroconvulsive therapy is still used today, with successful results for patients suffering from severe mania or extreme depression.[9]
  • In the 17th century, some physicians championed the use of bleeding and forced vomiting to treat mental ailments.[9]
  • A 1930s fad for mental-health treatment was to induce a short coma by dramatically reducing blood sugar levels. Proponents claimed that the change in insulin levels caused a simultaneous change in brain wiring.[9]
  • The false belief that epilepsy and schizophrenia were mutually exclusive led some practitioners to induce seizures in their mentally ill patients.[9]
  • Nineteenth-century psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg once cured a patient of psychosis by purposely infecting him with malaria in order to induce a fever.[9]
  • Although low levels of dopamine are a factor in several mental health disorders—including depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis—dopamine imbalances have not been shown to be direct causes.[2]
  • Depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse disorders have been linked to increased risk of suicide.[8]
  • Addiction Disorder
    Roughly 88,000 Americans die every year from alcohol abuse alone
  • Roughly one in ten Americans has an addiction disorder.[3]
  • In the United States, 2.6% of the population has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[1]
  • Celebrities who have talked openly about their struggles with bipolar disorder include Carrie Fisher, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Sinead O'Connor.[1]
  • American correctional facilities make up the largest provider of mental healthcare in the nation. Up to 40% of inmates report being told by prison mental health workers that they have a mental disorder.[5]
  • Reports show that in many US prisons, mentally ill prisoners are more likely to be retaliated against by prison staff and spend more total hours in solitary confinement.[5]
  • Postpartum depression—persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness that occur after pregnancy—is a condition experienced by 1 in 9 new mothers.[7]
  • Serious Mental Health INFOGRAPHIC
    Mental Infographic Thumbnail

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