Mental Health and Mental Disorders Workgroup

Objective Status

  • 0 Target met or exceeded
  • 1 Improving
  • 4 Little or no detectable change
  • 1 Getting worse
  • 2 Baseline only
  • 1 Developmental
  • 1 Research

Learn more about objective types

About the Workgroup

Approach and Rationale

Mental disorders are among the most common causes of disability, and the resulting disease burden is among the highest of all diseases. The proportion of U.S. adults estimated to have a mental disorder rose from 17.7 percent in 2008 to 19.1 percent, or 47.6 million people, in 2018.1 Similarly, the proportion of adults suffering from seriously impairing mental disorders has risen significantly, from 3.7 percent in 2008 to an estimated 4.6 percent, or 11.4 million people, in 2018.1 However, in 2018 fewer than half of adults with any mental illness received mental health services in the past year.1 Of the 4.6 million adults ages 18 to 25 years in 2018 with a past-year major depressive episode, about 2.3 million, or 49.6 percent, received treatment for depression in the past year.1 Moreover, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States,2 accounting for the deaths of 48,344 Americans in 2018.3  

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental health plays a major role in a person’s ability to maintain good physical health. Mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, affect a person’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 mental health treatment and recovery. 

Core objectives selected by the MHMD Workgroup aim to increase the proportion of primary care visits where adolescents and adults are screened for depression, increase the proportion of people who need treatment for mental disorders that receive appropriate treatment, and reduce the suicide rate and suicide attempts by adolescents.  

Developmental and research objectives highlight high-priority public health issues that lack data or evidence. The MHMD Workgroup selected a developmental objective that focuses on increasing the number of children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance who receive treatment, and a research objective that focuses on increasing the proportion of homeless adults with mental health problems who receive mental health services. 

MHMD objectives and targets align with several federal strategies and priorities, including those set out by agencies such as NIMH, SAMHSA, CDC, and AHRQ. All Healthy People 2030 core objectives meet several criteria — for example, they have baseline data, a direct impact on health, and an evidence base. 

Understanding Mental Health and Mental Disorders

Though mental health disorders affect people of all ages, races, and ethnicities, some populations are disproportionately affected. For example, suicide rates are higher in men than women and higher in rural counties than urbanized counties.2 People from racial/ethnic minority populations, lower socioeconomic strata, and rural communities are less likely to have access to care and more likely to receive lower-quality care.

Emerging issues in Mental Health and Mental Disorders

There is concern regarding the increasing rates of suicide in the United States. Enormous resources are being used to address this issue, and there is ongoing coordination within and across federal agencies to monitor and collaborate to address this difficult situation.   

There are increasing efforts to utilize primary care settings to focus on behavioral health, including assessing risk for, screening for, preventing, and treating mental health disorders.  

There are also efforts to address the existing behavioral health workforce shortage, including the use of telehealth.  



Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from [PDF - 1.7 MB]


Hedegaard H., Curtin S.C., Warner, M. (2018). Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017. (NCHS Data Brief No 330.) Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.  


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Fatal Injury Reports, National, Regional, and State, 1981-2018. Retrieved from   


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2019). 2018 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. Rockville, MD.