Mental Illness

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, character flaw or poor upbringing.

Mental Illness by the Numbers

  • 1 in 4 adults experience a mental illness in a given year. Approximately 175,000 people in Baltimore City are living with a mental health condition.
  • 20% of children and adolescents aged 13-18 live with a mental health condition. 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
  • Approximately 8.4 million Americans experience co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States, specifically major depressive disorder.

Effect of Untreated Mental Illness

  • Only approximately 60% of adults with a mental health condition received treatment in the past year.
  • A Harvard Medical School study showed that untreated mental illness costs the United States a minimum of $105 billion in lost productivity.
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the United States with a serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10-24, and the 2ndleading cause of death for people aged 15-24.

Wellness and Recovery

Mental health conditions are treatable and recovery is possible. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individualized treatment plan. Finding the right treatment plan, with the help of mental health professionals, is an important step in the recovery process.

There are many resources and services in Baltimore City and County to support your or a loved one’s recovery, including NAMI’s education programs and support groups.

Source: For additional information on mental health statistics visit or