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Why You Should Care About Mental Health

RADM Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., Acting U.S. Surgeon General

RADM Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., Acting U.S. Surgeon General

Most people don’t realize how common mental health and substance abuse problems are in the United States. Just as there are many types of physical illness, mental illness is varied and can affect people at all stages of life. In fact, at some time in their lives, nearly all Americans will be affected by a mental health or substance use disorder in themselves or their families. These are the hard facts:

Unfortunately, up to half of all people with mental illnesses and 90 percent of people who have a substance use disorder do not get the treatment they need. There are steps we can take to make a difference. Mental illness is treatable and the vast majority of Americans who have experienced mental illness recover and live happy, productive lives. They are our friends, neighbors, and families. We can strive to provide the best prevention, treatment, and recovery support services based on scientific evidence and the rich experiences of our diverse communities. We can involve individuals, families, schools, businesses and others to ensure that all Americans receive the support they need to achieve optimum behavioral health.

Long gone are the days in which we thought of physical health and mental health as separate and distinct. One is not possible without the other. I challenge you to join me in making a difference and together we can improve the health of the nation.


Learn more about mental and emotional well-being and the other priorities in the National Prevention Strategy.

Editor’s Note: Positive mental health is an important part of staying healthy when living with HIV. For more information, see our HIV Basics page Mental Health and HIV .