chapter  1
28 Pages

The Problem of Mental Disorder

For the United States, three major surveys-the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study of the early 1980s, the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) of the early 1990s (1990-1992), and its replication (NCS-R) a decade later (2001-2003)—suggest that anywhere from one-third to nearly one-half of the U.S. adult population between the ages of eighteen and fifty-four years has a diagnosable mental disorder. In a reanalysis of the NCS-R study, Ronald Kessler and Philip Wang (2008; Kessler 2013) found that approximately half the U.S. population (46.4 percent) meet the criteria for one or more mental disorders in their lifetimes, and about one-fourth of the population meets the criteria in any given year. Most people experiencing a mental health problem were found to have their first onset in childhood or adolescence.