If Everyone With Mental Illness Lived in America

The world is a big place. It can be hard to wrap your mind around how an illness affects people you’ve never met in places you’ve never even been. So, let’s look at it this way:

One in five people in the world will have a mental disorder in their lifetime. That’s 1,480,000,000 people. If everyone with a mental illness lived in the United States, we would need five countries to hold everyone. If we wanted everyone with schizophrenia, which is typically the most severe, to live in the same city, it would be larger than the entire west coast.  

More than half of the billion plus people with a mental disorder aren’t getting treatment. Instead they miss work, lose their jobs, or even wind up homeless or in jail. That's expensive. In fact, the cost of untreated mental illness is $1 trillion a year. That’s enough to pay the annual salary of 18 million teachers.

Untreated mental illness is the leading cause of suicide. Every year, 800,000 people take their own lives every year. That’s equivalent to the entire population of San Francisco.

But, if we wanted to treat everyone in the world with mental illness, we would only need $147 billion. That’s the net worth of three Mark Zuckerbergs. And, we would save enough money to buy every professional football, baseball, and basketball team, plus everything that Disney owns. Every year.

If everyone with mental illness lived in the United States, maybe we would understand the importance of treatment. That's why World Mental Health Day matters.