New research suggests that nearly half of all Americans have or will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Mental illness is on track to surpass all chronic disease as the major cause of disability worldwide within the next decade – and it’s also growing to be one of the costliest. SAMHSA projects that the cost of treating mental health and substance abuse is projected to reach $239 billion within the next few years.

It is clear that our nation is not doing enough to improve this perilous situation facing communities across the country today. We’re not devoting enough attention to improving care for those suffering from a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, nor are we doing enough to find solutions to prevent the onset of these challenges. And yet the most formidable challenge before us is perhaps overcoming the stigma from mental illness so pervasive in our communities. Mental illness is as much of a disease — that can be diagnosed and treated — as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. It transcends age, race and socioeconomic status. It can impact anyone.

Read more from APHA’s Georges Benjamin in his recent post now featured on SAMHSA’s blog.