Mental Health Disorders By Race, Gender, Age, & More

More than 1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental illness, but that number changes for various demographic groups such as gender, age, race, and more.

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Mental health disorders can affect anyone, but there are certain risk factors that can make mental health issues more common in some groups.

For example, hormonal and cognitive changes resulting from puberty, young adulthood, pregnancy, and menopause can trigger negative mental health symptoms.

With that said, mental health experts also believe that cultural norms likely have a major impact on who is willing to seek help for a mental health disorder, which likely skews the statistics.

Mental Health Disorders In The United States

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), more than one out of five American adults are living with an active mental illness.

In fact, the United States consistently ranks among the top five countries for the highest rates of mental health disorders.

As a result of these elevated rates, mental health continues to be a major public health concern in the U.S., requiring policy makers to work on lasting solutions.

Common Risk Factors For Mental Illness

Mental health disorders are complex, and there are a variety of risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing a mental illness

Mental illness risk factors include:

  • genetic predisposition
  • childhood abuse or neglect
  • trauma
  • high creativity
  • high intelligence
  • the inability to meet basic needs
  • stress
  • physical or emotional abuse
  • major hormonal shifts
  • social isolation
  • psychological distress

Each mental health case is unique, and there may be other factors that contribute to a particular person’s experiences.

Mental Health Statistics By Race

There are major health disparities in mental illness rates when race and ethnicity are the primary demographic factors.

In the U.S. population, mental disorder rates by racial group breakdown to:

  • 24.9% of Americans that identify as two or more races
  • 22.7% of American Indians/Alaska Natives
  • 19% of non-hispanic white Americans
  • 16.8% of black Americans
  • 15.3% of Hispanic Americans
  • 13.4% of Asian Americans

While national surveys suggest that mixed race, native, and white Americans have the highest rates of mental illness per year, the research also shows that ethnic minorities in the U.S. tend to have longer lasting consequences.

Researchers also suggest that numbers are skewed by cultural beliefs that may lead certain minority ethnic groups to dismiss the reality of mental illness, especially conditions like anxiety and depression.

Mental Health Statistics By Gender

There are significant differences in mental illness rates for men and women, as people who are biologically female are more likely to be diagnosed with and receive treatment for any mental illness.

Studies show that approximately 27.2% of females experienced a mental illness within the past year, while only 18.1% of males experienced mental illness in the same period.

The additional hormonal changes that biological females experience as a result of pregnancy and menopause may contribute to some of this difference.

However, it is likely that restrictive concepts of masculinity are also contributing to fewer men seeking help for mental health symptoms.

Outside of the sexual binary of male and female, people who identify as nonbinary or transgender have significantly higher rates of mental health disorders.

Transgender people have rates of mental illness as high as 58%, and experts suggest that this is due to the stigma, rejection, and abuse many transgender people face in adolescence and young adulthood.

Mental Health Statistics By Age

Young adults are the most likely to develop mental illness in the United States. This prevalence is due to several prominent factors.

1. Young adulthood is the normal age of onset for genetic mental health disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

2. Young adulthood is a time of major changes, newfound independence, and cognitive maturation.

3. Young adults are the most likely to abuse illegal drugs and alcohol, increasing the risk of substance use disorders and mental illness.

4. Modern young adults have grown up in a tumultuous time in a world that is more accepting of mental health treatment.

For other age groups in the USA, the approximate rates of mental illness are:

  • 18-25: 33.7%
  • 26-49: 28.1%
  • 50+: 15%

Mental Health Statistics By Education

Peer-reviewed studies have consistently shown that people with a higher education level are less likely to experience a mental health condition and less likely to experience serious symptoms.

Researchers found that the positive correlation between education and reduced mental illness rates were most profound for women and rural residents.

A study performed by the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) looked at anxiety disorder rates based on education level.

This research showed anxiety disorder rates of:

  • 12.9% for people with less than a high school education
  • 5% for high school graduates
  • 4.4% for people with some college education
  • 4.3% for college graduates and those with graduate level education

Similar trends exist for other common mental health disorders.

Mental Health Statistics By Socioeconomic Status

People of a lower socioeconomic status are more prone to developing mental health disorders.

Children who grow up in economically disadvantaged households are two to three times more likely to develop a mental illness.

Research devoted to cases of serious mental illness found that 7.5% of adults over the age of 26 living below the poverty line had a serious mental illness compared to 4.1% at the poverty line and 3.1% above the poverty line.

The reason for this correlation is likely related to the strain of being unable to meet basic needs as well as reduced access to behavioral health services due to lacking insurance coverage and high healthcare costs.

Mental Health Statistics By Religion

Generally speaking, people who are more religious or spiritual tend to have lower rates of mental illness and better health outcomes when a mental health disorder does develop.

Researchers suggest that the belief in a higher power and the social support provided by religious services may play a role, especially for mood disorders.

There are a few exceptions.

Studies that focused on anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) found mixed results with both positive and negative correlations.

Studies focused on psychotic disorders found that religion and spirituality could be a complicating factor that reduced the efficacy of treatment

Intersectionality And Mental Health Treatment

Statistics help scientists understand risk factors, inequities, and treatment barriers, but the breakdown of specific demographics cannot account for the complexity of the human experience.

To address the needs of an individual person, a mental health treatment program has to factor in the various groups a person belongs to, creating a more complete profile.

By considering the intersectionality of important factors like race, age, and gender identity, our clinicians at Bedrock Recovery Center can create a treatment plan that is truly unique to you.

The Importance Of Mental Health Treatment

If you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be difficult to recognize when it is time to ask for help.

The truth is that it’s never too early to seek help, and early intervention can actually help to prevent the more serious consequences of mental illness.

Like other health conditions, mental health problems rarely go away on their own and frequently get significantly worse.

A mental health treatment provider can help you to maintain your self-worth, your relationships, and your enjoyment of everyday life by improving your general well-being.

Learn About Mental Health Care In Massachusetts

To learn about the treatment modalities we provide at Bedrock Recovery Center, contact our team today.

  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA) https://www.psychiatry.org/getmedia/bac9c998-5b2d-4ffa-ace9-d35844b8475a/Mental-Health-Facts-for-Diverse-Populations.pdf
  2. National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
  3. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6830528/
  4. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9796491/#:~:text=An%20extra%20year%20of%20education,%25)%20and%20anxiety%20(5.6%25).
  5. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6415852/
  6. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8462234/
  7. Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2720/Spotlight-2720.html#:~:text=Adults%20aged%2026%20or%20older,of%20the%20levels%20of%20poverty.
  8. Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2351/Spotlight-2351.html

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: March 1, 2024

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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