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Economic Downturn Taking Toll on Americans' Mental Health

(WASHINGTON) /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national survey shows the economic downturn is taking a toll on the mental health of Americans. Individuals who are unemployed are four times as likely as those with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness.

Americans who experienced involuntary changes in their employment status, such as pay cuts or reduced hours, also are twice as likely to have these symptoms, even though they are employed full time.

The survey was conducted for Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in collaboration with the Depression is Real Coalition. The results come from telephone interviews of 1,002 adults nationwide from September 17-20.

"This survey clearly shows that economic difficulties are placing the public's mental health at serious risk, and we need affirmative action to address these medical problems," said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "Individuals confronting these problems should seek help for their problems - talk to their doctor, trusted friend or advisor or mental health professional."

"Unemployment today stands at almost 10 percent. Nationwide, we face a mental health crisis as well as an economic crisis," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick, M.S.W., executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "There is no shame in seeking help to overcome unemployment or a medical illness. For the sake of all our loved ones, it's important to learn to recognize symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses. Screening helps. Talk with a doctor about any concerns."