Monday, August 18, 2008

The Geography Of Mental Illness

In the last few decades, mental illness has increasingly been portrayed as the manifestation of a "chemical imbalance", and that in turn strongly affected by genes. That portrayal lends itself to drug-based therapies, to the delight of drug-makers.

Interestingly, in this country, psychological distress seems to occur more as a result of geography than genes.

Below is a map showing the hot spots for serious psychological distress (SPD), based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2005 and 2006.
Serious Psychological Distress In Past Year Among Persons Aged 18 Or Older

Click for larger.

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that SPD is most common in Utah (14.4%). 1 Other states with high rates of distress include Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The one exception to the geographical trend is Rhode Island. Generally, the Northeast and West Coast have much lower rates. The least-stressed state? Hawaii (8.8%).

Is there something else these states have in common?
1 Via SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

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