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Why Monitoring Mental Illness Is Important

October 20, 2014, 12:00 PM
LIST: Why Monitoring Mental Illness Is Important
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Surveillance activities that monitor mental illness are essential because mental illness is a significant public health problem. For example,

  • according to the World Health Organization, mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease;
  • published studies report that about 25% of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and that nearly 50% of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime;
  • mental illness is associated with increased occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer;
  • mental illness is associated with lower use of medical care, reduced adherence to treatment therapies for chronic diseases, and higher risks of adverse health outcomes;
  • mental illness is associated with use of tobacco products and abuse of alcohol;
  • rates for both intentional (e.g., homicide, suicide) and unintentional (e.g., motor vehicle) injuries are 2 to 6 times higher among people with a mental illness than in the population overall;
  • population-based surveys and surveillance systems provide much of the evidence needed to guide effective mental health promotion, mental illness prevention, and treatment programs;
  • monitoring mental illness is an important way to provide appropriate organizations the data they need to assess the need for mental and behavioral health services and to inform the provision of those services;
  • many mental illnesses can be managed successfully, and increasing access to and use of mental health treatment services could substantially reduce the associated morbidity;
  • many chronic illnesses are associated with mental illnesses, and it's been shown that treatment of mental illnesses associated with chronic diseases can reduce the effects of both and support better outcomes; and
  • CDC surveillance systems provide several types of mental health information, such as estimates of the prevalence of diagnosed mental illness from self-report or recorded diagnosis, estimates of the prevalence of symptoms associated with mental illness, and estimates of the effect of mental illness on health and well-being.
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