Long-Term Effects of Untreated Mental Illness

From addiction to dementia, almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder. 

Untreated mental illness takes a toll on everybody, including those who suffer from addiction or suicidal thoughts, as well as their relationships, productivity and physical health. The answer to these problems is getting comprehensive, continuous treatment that starts with an accurate diagnosis.

What Percent of Mental Illness is Untreated?

Mental illness is a widespread problem, and even when people do receive treatment, there are often significant delays. If the same were true of physical health conditions, it would be shocking. Mental Illness Policy Org estimates that close to half of all Americans with a mental illness are not getting treatment.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 51 percent of adults in the U.S. with bipolar disorder and 40 percent with schizophrenia were untreated during a one-year study period.

Statistics show that a mere 43 percent of people with mental illness received treatment in 2016. Around the world, approximately two-thirds of people with a mental disorder go untreated.

The Long-Term Effects of Untreated Mental Illness

When mental illness goes untreated, the long-term effects can be dire. Individuals with mental illness are more likely to suffer from poverty, homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse and other related issues. They also face higher rates of unemployment and underemployment. The impact of not getting treatment runs deep:

Family: Mental illness can take a toll on family members, who often bear the brunt of mental health issues.

Health: Mental illness is linked to physical conditions like obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

Work: Untreated mental illness can lead to workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity and higher rates of work-related injuries.

Society: Mental illness contributes to a wide range of social issues such as higher crime rates, homelessness and an overall decrease in quality of life.

The Key Is Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

Mental health disorders are complex, and it is often difficult to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. There are a number of different approaches that mental health professionals can take, but the most important thing is to carefully consider all of the available information. This may include taking a comprehensive history, conducting a physical examination and ordering laboratory tests.

Once a diagnosis has been made, it is important to develop a treatment plan that takes into account the individual’s unique needs and preferences. In many cases, effective treatment requires a combination of medication and counseling.

Mental illnesses are complicated, and often overlap with one another. This can make diagnosing tricky, as a professional must try to tease apart the various symptoms in order to understand what is going on.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to work with an experienced mental health professional who can observe the symptoms and use their expertise to make a determination. With the help of a qualified mental health professional, you can get the treatment you need to start feeling better.

Treatment for The Diagnosis

Mental illnesses are chronic conditions, much like diabetes or heart disease. Just as with those other conditions, treatment is the key to learning to manage mental illness.

Some people with mental illness will need to take medication on a long-term basis in order to control their symptoms. Others may need to see a therapist on a regular basis in order to learn how to deal with their condition. Still others may need to do both.

The important thing is to get the help that you need in order to live a healthy and productive life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling. There is no shame in seeking treatment for mental illness. Getting the help that you need is the best way to manage your condition and live a full and happy life.


Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.