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Published December 29, 2012, 06:18 PM

1 in 5 Americans is now diagnosed with a mental illness

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- For many, it's a shocking statistic: one in five Americans is now diagnosed with a mental illness. But to mental health professionals, that comes as no surprise.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- For many, it's a shocking statistic: one in five Americans is now diagnosed with a mental illness. But to mental health professionals, that comes as no surprise.

One in five. That's how many Americans, including children, have a mental illness, according to the U.S. Institute of Mental Health.

But mental health professionals say that doesn't mean are mental health is declining.

Fleissner: "Mental illness is extremely common and is pervasive in the population of human beings."

Dr. Rachel Fleissner with Sanford Health says it just means more people are getting help.

For years, mental illnesses like depression or anxiety have come with a stigma that has prevented many from seeking treatment.

The way insurance works could also play a role. In many cases, people seeking therapy must get an actual diagnosis to get help.

John Lyon/Therapist at The Village: "Therapy is about fixing people, helping people find solutions. And insurance is based on a very medical model, which is, you have a cold, take these anti-biotics, and then you don't have the cold anymore. And that doesn't translate really well."

Whatever the reason some still stay away, mental illness is still at its highest diagnosed rate.

Fleissner: "People have been suffering from these illnesses for millenia, now we're hoping that they're actually getting the diagnosis and the treatment so they can live to their potential."

The same study found that 38 percent of adults with a diagnosed mental illnesses sought help last year.

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