Special Report

14 States Struggling With Mental Illness


To determine the 14 states struggling the most with mental illness, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of the adult population with a serious mental illness in each state based on surveys conducted between 2014 and 2015 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Serious mental illness is defined as “having, at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”

The prevalence of any mental illness, including serious mental disorders that may not have impaired life activities for example, also came from SAMHSA. The percentage of adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year, the share of adults who had suicidal thoughts in the past year, and alcohol and illicit drug abuse rates also came from SAMHSA.

Heart disease, cancer, drug overdose, and diabetes rates came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are for the most recent available year.

Per capita drug prescription rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. State mental health legislation and spending was compiled by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We also considered poverty rates, uninsured rates, and educational attainment rates from the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) as well as 2016 annual unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.