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Missoula Measures - Mental Health

graph poor mental health days, US, Montana, Missoula 


Why this topic?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in any given year, an estimated 13 million American adults (approximately 1 in 17) have a seriously debilitating mental illness. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada, accounting for 25 percent of all years of life lost to disability and premature mortality. Moreover, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for the deaths of approximately 30,000 Americans each year. (Suicide Measure)

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental health plays a major role in people’s ability to maintain good physical health. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect people’s ability to participate in health-promoting behaviors. In turn, problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, can have a serious impact on mental health and decrease a person’s ability to participate in treatment and recovery.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports (2009) that about half of homeless people have a mental health issue.  Of those, 25% have a chronic, serious mental illness.


How are we doing?


Treatment and control of mental health issues is challenging:

According to a 2011 report from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)

Local and state statistics on mental health issues is not readily available.

Common forms of mental illness:



Affects about 16.5% of Americans; women are 70% more likely to suffer from depression than men. Depression is a common mental disorder with symptoms that include depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. World Health Organization

According to a 2012 report from the Montana Mental Health Bureau, 1% - 2% of the population of Missoula, and of Montana, is affected by depression severe enough to seek treatment.  However, the number of cases is slowly creeping upwards.


Eating disorders

Affects about 10-15% of Americans; women are 10 times more likely to have an eating disorder than men. "Eating disorder" is when a person eats, or refuses to eat, in order to satisfy a psychic need and not a physical need. The person doesn't listen to body signals or perhaps is not even aware of them. A normal person eats when hungry and stops eating when the body doesn't need more, when he feels the signal of satisfaction. Eating disorders are usually classified as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. However, a person may have an eating disorder without belonging exactly to any of these categories. Depression is a common co-illness; eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness Nat’l Assn Anorexia


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Affects about 9% of Americans; males are twice as likely to have ADHA as women. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes some combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. While treatment won't cure ADHD, it can help a great deal with symptoms. Treatment typically involves medications and behavioral interventions. A diagnosis of ADHD can be scary, and symptoms can be a challenge for parents and children alike. However, treatment can make a big difference, and most children with ADHD grow up to be normal adults. Mayo Clinic


Substance addiction

Substance abuse is defined as continued use of a substance (alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs) regardless of the problems it causes. (One in 4 deaths of Americans is attributed to alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use.) Substance abuse can cause problems with school, work, family responsibilities and social relationships. Addiction is often characterized by a craving for the substance, needing more of it to achieve the effect that a lesser amount of the substance induced in the past, or feeling that you can’t perform without it. The dependent user can also experience withdrawal symptoms such as increased heart rate, shaking, insomnia, fatigue, and irritability when the substance is not used. Robert Woods Johnson Foundation


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Affects about 8% of Americans sometime during their life. Women are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as men. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after seeing or experiencing a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. PTSD can occur at any age and can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as assault, domestic abuse, a prison stay, rape, terrorism, war, etc. National Library of Medicine


Additional information

In Montana, on March 31, 2009, there were 3602 people in treatment for substance abuse at 60 facilities:

National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services



Factors that help protect CHILDREN against mental health disorders:

Factors that help protect ADULTS against mental health disorders:



Over the past 20 years, research on the prevention of mental disorders has progressed. The understanding of how the brain functions under normal conditions and in response to stressors, combined with knowledge of how the brain develops over time, has been essential to that progress. The major areas of progress include evidence that:



National Healthy People 2020 Target Local statistics
Reduce suicide rate per 100,000 from 11.3 to 10.2. 2009 MT rate: 22
Increase the proportion of primary care facilities that provide mental health treatment onsite or by paid referral – from 79% to 87%. In 2012, Missoula has 1 mental health inpatient treatment center which accepts referrals from our 2 hospitals.
Increase depression screening among primary care providers – currently, in the US, 2.2% screen. In Missoula there are no primary care providers that screen for depression.
Increase the proportion of juvenile residential facilities that screen admissions for mental health problems - from 58% to 64% In Missoula: Youth Court screens on a case-by-case basis if needed; Juvenile Detention uses Massachusetts Adolescent Youth Screening Instrument; Youth Homes conducts broad scope screening on intake and updates monthly.



Related websites

Missoula's Suicide Prevention Network

Internet Mental Health

Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General - Chapter 3

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.


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