Mental Health Services Policy and the Aging
The United States Surgeon General (1999) proclaimed that mental health is fundamental to health and wen being, and the detrimental effects of mental illness can be just as disabling as arthritis, cancer, and other serious health problems. Mental illness impairs functional ability, Hmits occupational and leisure opportunities, lowers health status, and may be a source of stress and burden to significant others and caregivers. Mental illness also represents a significant cost to the individual and to society. The Surgeon General suggested that one in five adult Americans (44 million) experienced a diagnosable mental disorder in the past year, and when substance abuse disorders were included, the proportion of diagnosable illnesses rose to 28% ofthe US adult population.