SAMHSA: America’s Behavioral Health Improving


The “behavioral health” of Americans is improving, stated a press release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, based on its new survey report the “National Behavioral Health Barometer.”

“The Barometer indicates that the behavioral health of our nation is improving in some areas, particularly among adolescents,” the press release stated. “For example, past month use of both illicit drugs and cigarettes has fallen for youth ages 12-17 from 2009 to 2013 (from 10.1 percent to 8.8 percent for illicit drugs and 9.0 percent to 5.6 percent for cigarettes). Past month binge drinking among children ages 12-17 has also fallen from 2009 to 2013 (from 8.9 percent to 6.2 percent).”

Another indicator that behavioral health was improving, stated the press release, was that more people have been getting mental health treatment. “The number of people receiving treatment for a substance use problem has increased six percent from 2009 to 2013. It also shows that the level of adults experiencing serious mental illness who received treatment rose from 62.9 percent in 2012 to 68.5 percent in 2013.” It was not clear from the report if these people were benefiting from the treatment or not. The number of people who were seriously mentally ill has also increased significantly.

The press release included links to the report. SAMHSA also released state-by-state data. Medscape examined the report in more detail.

SAMHSA’s new report tracks the behavioral health of America (SAMHSA press release, January 26, 2015)

More Americans Getting Mental Health Treatment (Medscape, January 27, 2015)


  1. I seriously doubt that more people receiving mental health treatment means that America’s mental health is improving. Were the mental health authorities (& they do) to screen for mental health, I bet they’d find even more people in need of their services. The problem with receiving mental health services is that sometimes receiving mental health services can be very destructive quite despite the rhetoric. Look at the high mortality rate among people with serious mental illness labels, some of which started as not so serious mental illness labels, and you can see the devastating aftermath of such treatment. If the treatment is so dreadfully bad, are people any more healthy for receiving it. I don’t think so. I don’t think, for one thing, of patient death as any indication of good health.

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  2. How is more people getting treatment a measure of better health? Would we consider that more people getting bypass surgery or more people taking antibiotics an indicator of improved physical health? What warped thinking!!

    It also bothers me that anyone uses the term ‘behavioral health.’ Behavior doesn’t have health. Health is a characteristic of an organism or being. Behavior is something a being chooses to do.

    These people are morons.

    —- Steve

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    • Exactly. “Behavioural health” strikes me as a totalitarian term. It is unmasking the oppressive, social control role of psychiatry and public institutions as a whole.
      I understand they probably meant “behaviours that promote health and prevent disease” are on the rise but the sheer fact they included seeking mental health treatment in this category is telling. Boy, we live in interesting times…

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      • Behavioral Health is also used in the sleep medicine industry which drives me nuts.

        And speaking of the term, why isn’t it used in medical specialties like cardiology since many people (not all) and up with health problems due to their behaviors? I mean, if the Cardiology Department was called Cardiology Behavioral Health, people would be in an uproar. But I guess it is easier to get away with stigmatizing folks with alleged mental health issues. A big fat sigh.

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  3. The very concept of “behavioral health” is a vestige of Freudian insanity. A truth barometer indicates that the behavioral health of SAMHSA, NIMH, the APA and psychiatry in general is not good. Not good at all. In fact, it would be more accurate to state that the therapeutic state is SICK. Very SICK. “Mental health treatment” is what causes “mental illness.” Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.

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  4. Yes, as Steve and Frank point out, using statistics on more people getting psychiatric “treatment” as a measure of health is really bizarre. What is even more bizarre, to me, is that a large proportion of the public probably thinks this makes sense. A lot of what people like SAMHSA say doesn’t make sense, and I think we should point this out as much as we can.

    I have seen discussions on social media where our folks try to debunk the latest pronouncements by Congressmen Murphy, E.Fuller Torrey, etc. by giving rational arguments. It would be much better, I think, to point out to the public that what these people are saying is utter nonsense.

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    • “What is even more bizarre, to me, is that a large proportion of the public probably thinks this makes sense.”
      They don’t. They simply don’t put much thought in it. The moment they start actively thinking about it it takes a special kind of genius not to spot the ill-logic.

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