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Mental health and the law: Part One – The Numbers

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 1 in every 25 American adults experience a serious mental illness.

NAMI - Mental Health Facts in America

NAMI – Mental Health Facts in America

On average, only 60% of those identified with serious mental health issues received mental health services in the prior year. A serious mental illness is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration under the DSM-IV that results in serious functional impairment. The impairment interferes with or limits one of more major life activities.

The number of Americans suffering from mental illness—including those that don’t rise to the level of “serious” mental illness—is even higher. One in five adult Americans suffer from mental illness, which, like “serious” mental illnesses, have the potential to impair the person’s life.

Because lawyers routinely interact with the public, they are statistically likely to encounter those who suffer from mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders. Future blog posts on this subject will provide tips and resources for those representing clients suffering from mental illness. Up next: Is your client competent to make his own decisions?

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