Someone You Know is Mentally Ill

Most are unaware of the mentally ill who live among them. The stigma against mental illness forces those who suffer to keep it hidden.

One out of three people is mentally ill. Ask two friends how they're doing. If they say they're OK, then you're it.

Mental illness is common in the entire world's population. However many people are unaware of the mentally ill who live among them because the stigma against mental illness forces those who suffer to keep it hidden. Many people who ought to be aware of it prefer to pretend it doesn't exist.

The most common mental illness is depression. It is so common that many are surprised to find out that it is considered a mental illness at all. About 25% of women and 12% of men experience depression at some time in their lives, and at any given moment about 5% are experiencing major depression. (The statistics I find vary depending on the source.)

Roughly 1.2% of the population is manic-depressive. You probably know more than a hundred people - the chances are great that you know someone who is manic-depressive. Or to look at it another way, according to K5's advertising demographics, our community has 27,000 registered users and is visited by 200,000 unique visitors each month. Thus we can expect that K5 has roughly 270 manic-depressive members and the site is viewed by about 2,000 manic-depressive readers each month.

A slightly smaller number of people have schizophrenia.

About one in two hundred people get schizoaffective disorder during their lives.

While homelessness is a significant problem for the mentally ill, most of us are not out sleeping on the streets or locked up in hospitals. Instead, we live and work in society just as you do. You will find the mentally ill among your friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, even your family. At a company where I was once employed, when I confided that I was manic-depressive to a coworker in our small workgroup, she replied that she was manic-depressive too.

next: Schizoaffective Disorder and Life on a Roller Coaster

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, March 6). Someone You Know is Mentally Ill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Last Updated: June 10, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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