Any Mental Illness (AMI) among Adults

  • Mental illnesses are common in the United States.
  • The data presented here are from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which defines any mental illness (AMI) as:
    • A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders);
    • Diagnosable currently or within the past year; and,
    • Of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
  • AMI can range in impact from no or mild impairment to significantly disabling impairment, such as in individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), defined as individuals with a mental disorder with serious functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • As noted, these estimates of AMI do not include substance use disorders, such as drug- or alcohol-related disorders.  For statistics and other information about drug- and alcohol-related disorders, please visit the statistics pages of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).
  • In 2012, there were an estimated 43.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. with AMI in the past year.  This represented 18.6 percent of all U.S. adults.

Prevalence of Any Mental Illness among U.S. Adults (2012)

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Statistical Methods and Measurement Caveats

Diagnostic Assessment:

  • The NSDUH AMI estimates are generated from a prediction model that includes data from a subset of adult NSDUH respondents who completed a past 12-month version of the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders (Research Version, Non-patient Edition (SCID-I/NP)). 
  • The assessment included diagnostic modules assessing:  mood, anxiety, eating, impulse control, substance use, adjustment disorders, and a psychotic symptoms screen.
  • The assessment did not contain diagnostic modules assessing:  adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders (although the assessment included a psychotic symptom screen). 
  • People who only have disorders that are not included in these diagnostic modules may not be adequately detected.  However, there are known patterns of high comorbidities among mental disorders;  these patterns increase the likelihood that people who meet AMI criteria were detected by the study, as they may also have one or more of the disorders assessed in the SCID-I/NP. 

Population:

  • The entirety of NSDUH respondents for the AMI estimates is the civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 18 years old or older residing within the United States.
  • The survey covers residents of households (persons living in houses/townhouses, apartments, condominiums; civilians living in housing on military bases, etc.) and persons in non-institutional group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming/boarding houses, college dormitories, migratory workers' camps, halfway houses).
  • The survey does not cover persons who, for the entire year, had no fixed address (e.g., homeless and/or transient persons not in shelters); were on active military duty; or who resided in institutional group quarters (e.g., correctional facilities, nursing homes, mental institutions, long-term hospitals).
  • Some people in these excluded categories have AMI, but they are not accounted for in the NSDUH AMI estimates.

Non-response Bias:

  • In 2012, 28% of the NSDUH adult sample did not complete the interview. 
  • Reasons for non-response to interviewing include: refusal to participate (20%); respondent unavailable (2%); physical or mental incompetence (2%); no one at home/not answering the door (1-2%); language barriers (1-2%). 
  • People with mental illness may disproportionately fall into these non-response categories. While NSDUH weighting includes non-response adjustments to reduce bias, these adjustments may not fully account for differential non-response by mental illness status.

Please see the 2012 SAMHSA NSDUH Mental Health Findings report for further information on how these data were collected and calculated.