Nearly half of all Americans will be experiencing some kind of mental health problem at some point in their lives, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

“There are unacceptably high levels of mental illness in the United States, said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC.

The authors are not saying that half of all Americans have a mental illness at the moment, just that they will at some time.

We know that mental illness is an important public health problem in itself and is also associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. The report's findings indicate that we need to expand surveillance activities that monitor levels of mental illness in the United States in order to strengthen our prevention efforts, Arias said.

Using 2009 data, the researchers concluded that nearly 5 percent of American adults had suffered from a mental illness in the preceding year. About 8.4 million thought seriously about suicide, about 2.2 million made plans to actually commit suicide and about 1 million attempted to end their lives.

In spite all the discussion regarding healthcare reform in the country, little has been said about the need for more mental healthcare. If someone is suffering from depression, another mood disorder, or other forms of mental illness, he will find that it is not easy to get the help he needs. Also, if he finds the right doctor or therapy, he may end up battling with the insurance company to pay for it.

It also has been shown that mental disorders have definite connections to chronic physical illnesses including cancer and heart disease. In addition to this, psychiatric illness and other mental health issues are surrounded by stigma, which adds to the burden.

This report is once again stressing the reality that mental illness is a major public health problem.