Prevalence of Mental Illness in the United States: Data Sources and Estimates [April 26, 2013] [open pdf - 280KB]
"Congress has demonstrated an interest in mental health and mental illness, and knowing how many people have a mental illness may be helpful in addressing related policy issues. Determining how many people have a mental illness can be difficult, and prevalence estimates vary. While numerous surveys include questions related to mental illness, few provide prevalence estimates of 'diagnosable mental illness', and fewer still provide national prevalence estimates of diagnosable mental illness. This report briefly describes the methodology and selected findings of three large federally funded surveys that provide national prevalence estimates of 'diagnosable mental illness': the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). This report presents prevalence estimates of any mental illness and serious mental illness based on each survey and ends with a brief discussion of how these prevalence estimates might inform policy discussions. One data source may be preferred over another in specific situations. For example, the NCS-R and the NCS-A are a decade old, so the NSDUH (which is conducted annually) may be preferred for more recent prevalence estimates. On the other hand, the NCS-R and the NCS-A provide prevalence estimates for specific disorders, which the NSDUH does not provide."
CRS Report for Congress, R43047