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What is the State of the Nation's Mental Health?
On December 13, 1999 the Surgeon General of the United States released a landmark
report on the state of America's mental health. The release of the report was preceded by
the first White House Conference on Mental Health, held in the summer of 1999.
The 487-page report, citing over 3,000 research studies, is a veritable textbook of abnormal
psychology. After a discussion of the biopsychosocial influences on mental health, the report
examines the major psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, and pharmacological treatment
modalities. Successive chapters cover the specific etiology and treatment of every major
mental disorder, including childhood developmental and behavioral disorders.
The executive summary explains the scope of the report and introduces each chapter. Read
the summary and answer the following questions. Save it. You can access any portion of
the full report that interests you from this same page.
1. What two messages does the report hope to convey?
2. What are the report's two main conclusions?
3. What are the three leading causes of disability and premature death in the United States?
4. What percentage of Americans experience a mental disorder in the course of a year?
5. What percentage of Americans who experience a mental disorder also have a cooccurring alcohol or drug problem?
6. What percentage of Americans with severe mental illness does not seek treatment?
7. What is the primary reason for people not seeking mental health treatment?
8. What is the most promising antidote for the stigma attached to mental illness?