Home » Blogs » Partners in Wellness » Your Partner is 1 in 5

Your Partner is 1 in 5

You may have told your partner during your time together that he or she is “one in a million,” but if they also have a mental illness, they are more like 1 in 5 Americans, according to a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).

According to the report:

A new national report reveals that 45.9 million American adults aged 18 or older, or 20 percent of this age group, experienced mental illness in the past year. The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 (29.9 percent) than among those aged 50 and older (14.3 percent). Adult women were also more likely than men to have experienced mental illness in the past year (23 percent versus 16.8 percent).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health also shows that 11.4 million adults (5 percent of the adult population) suffered from serious mental illness in the past year. Serious mental illness is defined as one that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.

As the well partner, what does this mean for you?

  1. You are not alone. It can feel that way sometimes, but the truth is, there are many partners out there like you. It may take some work to seek out people who are walking the same road you and your partner are, but support is available, both in person and online.
  2. The impact of mental illness on a couple/family can be devastating. Your partner may not be able to work, to take on their share of the responsibilities, or to be there for you emotionally. After a while, that takes its toll on you, physically and emotionally, and can challenge your relationship.
  3. Recovery from most mental illnesses is possible, but it takes time and money, two things that may be in short supply. The report stated that mental health costs in 2002 were around $300 billion. And if your relationship is already on shaky ground, having the patience to wait for treatment to work may feel impossible. (See point #1!)
  4. Suicide is a real threat. Sadly, the report found that an estimated 8.7 million American adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, including 2.5 million who made suicide plans and 1.1 million who attempted suicide.
  5. Substance abuse rates are far higher for those with mental illnesses. This creates an even more challenging problem to address through treatment, and makes it imperative that your partner work with a treatment team that addresses both issues.
Your Partner is 1 in 5

Kate Thieda

Kate Thieda, MS, LPCA, NCC, is a patient advocate for Women's and Children's Services at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. She is a licensed professional counselor associate and a National Certified Counselor who specializes in cognitive-behavioral and dialectical behavior therapies. Her book, Loving Someone With Anxiety, will be published by New Harbinger in the spring of 2013.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Thieda, K. (2012). Your Partner is 1 in 5. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Jan 2012
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.