Prevalence: Mental Health Introduction

Among the Population at Large

  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental illness is experienced by 19% of U.S. adults with 4% experiencing a “serious mental illness.” (American Psychiatric Assocation)
  • According to the National Institute for Mental Health, approximately 31% of all American adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their life.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression and that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. The WHO expects depression to be the biggest health problem on earth by 2030 (Yoga for Emotional Balance 2011 p xv).

Among Yoga Students

Please note that most statistics will be referring to diagnosable mental health disorders. However, in the context of yoga and its effect on mental health, the discussion often refers to mental health in general, including ways to respond to emotional imbalance that is not deemed illness.

  • Everyone experiences emotional imbalance from time-to-time, thus most students will at some point arrive in class while experiencing related symptoms.
  • Because yoga is becoming widely known as an effective support for common mental health concerns, you will likely encounter students seeking these benefits, either on the advice of their doctor or through research of their own.
  • Students may not always alert you to the fact that they’ve come to class seeking help with anxiety or depression, but knowing that they may be experiencing such issues can help you to be more prepared and to help students self-select practices likely to be most helpful for their particular situation.