Most people will have a mental illness during their lifetime

Woman looking at floor
It’s even more prevalent than previously thought [Photo: Pexels]

The world still has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating stigma surrounding mental health.

Despite the fact just about everyone knows someone – ourselves or someone close to us – who has lived through a mental illness.

And in fact, according to a new study, a vast majority of people will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives.

Research published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology followed a generation of people born in the same town in New Zealand from birth right through to middle age.

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There’s a lot we aren’t talking about [Photo: Pexels]

Checking on participants’ mental health every few years, they found that more than 80% of them developed a mental illness at some point while 17% didn’t show any signs of doing so.

Researcher Aaron Reuben noted in Scientific American that this study was different from others – which tend to ask participants to reflect on the past rather than the present – and thus produced different results.

“We found that if you follow people over time, and screen them regularly using simple, evidence-based tools, the percentage of people who develop a diagnosable mental illness at any point in their lives jumps to well over 80%,” he said.

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What does this mean for the future? [Photo: Pexels]

“In our cohort only 17% of study members did not develop a disorder, at least briefly, by middle age.

“Because we can’t be certain these individuals remained disorder-free in the years between assessments, the true proportion that never experienced a mental illness may be even smaller.

“Put another way, our study shows that you are more likely to experience a bout of mental illness than you are to develop diabetes, heart disease or any kind of cancer whatsoever – combined.”

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