The Psychology of Serious Mental Illness

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health defines sustained mental illness SMI as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that has been diagnosed within the prior year or currently.  This condition must also be void of developmental or substance use disorders.  SMI must also impede or impair routine functioning of ones routine daily events.  The SMI must also meet the criteria found in at least the earlier 4th edition of the DSM IV.

The graph below comes from National Institute of Health (NIH) and it’s division of The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 

Serious Mental Illness is found in about 5% of the United States population.  Although the graph indicates a somewhat higher presence among whites and females which is accepted as factual for that population.

On the other hand are African Americans and males less likely to seek clinical help than other reported populations? Does this account for the lower percentages in the findings presented by NIH.


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