Published 19 August, 2015

General Facts

  • With proper care and treatment, between 70 and 90 percent of persons with mental illnesses experience a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life (1). 
  • More than two-thirds of Americans who have a mental illness live in the community and lead productive lives (2). 
  • Less than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year (3). 

Housing Facts

  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness (4). 
  • Most homeless persons with mental illness do not need to be institutionalized, but can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options (5). 
  • Even if homeless individuals with mental illnesses are provided with housing, they are unlikely to achieve residential stability and remain off the streets unless they have access to continued treatment and services (6). 
  • Research has shown that supported housing is the most effective residential approach for people with mental illnesses (7). 
  • SAMHSA has recognized the need to integrate and coordinate employment services as part of a seamless array of services for homeless individuals with serious mental illness (8). 

Employment Facts

  • 60-80 percent of people who live with mental illness are unemployed and, for people living with the most severe mental illnesses,  unemployment rates can be as high as 90 percent (9). 
  • Supported employment, integrated with mental health services, promotes well-being and saves millions in disability costs (10). 
  • The greatest barrier to employment for people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities are employers’ myths and fears about their condition, not the disabilities themselves (11). 
  • Employers who have hired individuals with mental illnesses report that their attendance and punctuality exceed the norm, and that their motivation, work quality, and job tenure is as good as or better than that of other employees (12).

Education Facts

  • Individuals with the least amount of education have the highest rates of unemployment.  Individuals who have not completed their high school education are impacted at nearly twice the rate (14.6%) of the general population (7.9% in 2010) (13). 
  • The higher the educational achievement the greater the immunity to economic trends; those with associates degrees were affected more than those with bachelors, masters, professional, and doctoral degrees (14). 
  • In a 2012 study of nearly 100,000 college students, 56% stated they were very lonely, 60.7% stated they were very sad, 80% reported being emotionally exhausted, and nearly 46% stated they had been hopeless. Within the 12 months prior to this study 37% of respondents, roughly 35,400 students, had been diagnosed with a psychiatric impairment that would warrant services in community health settings (15).
  • By far the most important factor affecting participation and level of activity in employment is the amount of education completed (16).  
  • A college degree can help ameliorate one of the major barriers to obtaining a position, lack of education that prevents economic self-sufficiency, independence, and community integration (17). 

Wellness Facts

  • People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are up to three times more likely to have three or more chronic conditions compared with people without these mental disorders (18). 
  • People with behavioral health problems often live in poverty and experience social isolation and trauma, which can lead to higher levels of stress and/or reduce access to quality primary care services that can help prevent and manage these deadly conditions (19). 
  • 75% of individuals with behavioral health problems smoke cigarettes as compared to 23% of the general population (20). 
  • Mental health providers should emphasize the eight dimensions of wellness: social, environmental, physical, emotional, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, and financial and help to promote communication among mental health consumers, professionals, and primary care providers (21).
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Md., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, 1999, pp. 408- 411.
  2. National Mental Health Association.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health.  (2009). Statistics.
  4. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2003). Blueprint for change: Ending chronic homelessness for persons with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders. DHHS Pub. No. SMA-04-3870, Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 
  6. National Coalition for the Homeless. (2009). Mental illness and homelessness.
  7. National Coalition for the Homeless. (2009). Mental illness and homelessness.
  8. Shaheen, G., Williams, F., & Dennis D. (Eds.) (2003). Work as a priority: A resource for employing people who have a serious mental illness and who are homeless [DHHS Pub. No. SMA 03–3834]. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 
  9. National Governors Association. (2002). Strategies states can use to employ persons with mental illness, National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices.
  10. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, High unemployment and disability for people with serious mental illness.
  11. Center for Reintegration, Mental illness and the workplace.  Retrieved, 8-3-2012 from
  12. United States Department of Labor (May 27, 2010). Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Projections: Education pays in higher earnings and lower unemployment rates [Chart data-TXT]. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved on January 31. 2011 from
  13. Beiser, M., Erickson, D., Fleming, J.A. & Iacono, W. G. (1993). Establishing the onset of psychotic illness. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(9), 1349-1354;  Giaconia, R. M., Reinherz, H. Z., Silverman, A. B., Pakiz, B., Frost, A. K., & Cohen, E. (1994).Ages of onset of psychiatric disorder in a community population of older adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 33, 706-717;  Olfson, M., Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., & Lin, E. (1998). Psychiatric disorder onset and first treatment contact in the United States and Ontario., 1415-1422. 
  14. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (2011). Myths and stereotypes about mental disabilities greatest barrier to employment.
  15. American College Health Association. (2010). National College Health Assessment. Retrieved from 
  16. Mechanic, D. (2003). Policy challenges in improving mental health services: Some lessons from the past. Psychiatric Services, 54, 1227-1232.
  17. Murphy, A.A., Mullen, M.G., & Spagnolo, A.B. (2005). Enhancing individual placement and support: Promoting job tenure by integrating natural support and Supported Education. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 8, 37-61.
  18. Carney C,P., Jones, L., Woolson, R.F.(2006). Medical co morbidity in women and men with schizophrenia: A population based controlled study. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21 (11)
  19. SAMHSA. (2012).
  20. Parks, J. & Jewell, P. eds. (2006). Technical Report on Smoking Policy and Treatment in State Operated Psychiatric Facilities. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Medical Directors Council 
  21. Swarbrick, M. (2006). A wellness approach. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 29(4), 3311-3314. 
  22. Blank, M. B., Himelhoch, S. S., Balaji, A. B., Metzger, D. S., Dixon, L. B., Rose, C. E., … & Heffelfinger, J. D. (2014). A Multisite Study of the Prevalence of HIV With Rapid Testing in Mental Health Settings. American journal of public health, (0), e1-e8., M. (2006). A wellness approach. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 29(4), 3311-3314.