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Important Facts for Mental Health - Adult Self-reported Mental Distress


Percentage of NM residents 18 years or older experiencing "Mental Distress", defined as answering 6 days or more to the question, "Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health NOT good?"


The number of survey respondents who reported "Mental Distress", defined as poor mental health for 6 or more of the past 30 days.


Total number of survey respondents except those with missing, "Don't know/Not sure," and "Refused" responses.

Data Interpretation Issues

Data for this indicator report are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing survey of adults regarding their health-related behaviors, health conditions, and preventive services. Data are collected in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories. Responses have been weighted to reflect the New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership. The survey is conducted using scientific telephone survey methods for landline and cellular phones (with cellular since 2011). The landline phone portion of the survey excludes adults living in group quarters such as college dormitories, nursing homes, military barracks, and prisons. The cellular phone portion of the survey includes adult students living in college dormitories but excludes other group quarters. Beginning with 2011, the BRFSS updated its surveillance methods by adding in calls to cell phones and changing its weighting methods. These changes improve BRFSS' ability to take into account the increasing proportion of U.S. adults using only cellular telephones as well as to adjust survey data to improve the representativeness of the estimates generated from the survey. Results have been adjusted for the probability of selection of the respondent, and have been weighted to the adult population by age, gender, phone type, detailed race/ethnicity, renter/owner, education, marital status, and geographic area. Lastly and importantly, these changes mean that the data from years prior to 2011 are not directly comparable to data from 2011 and beyond. [ Please see this BRFSS fact sheet.] The "missing" and "don't know" responses are removed before calculating a percentage.

Why Is This Important?

Adult mental health issues range in a spectrum from day-to-day challenges with stress, anxiety, and "the blues", to persistent mental health challenges arising from chronic physical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and obesity. to chronic clinically-diagnosable psychiatric morbidities such as anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, to serious life-threatening situations such as suicidal ideation and suicide attempt, which sometimes result from a combination of the mental and physical health challenges mentioned above. A host of measures exist for assessing the mental health status of individuals, but characterizing the mental health status of the population is a relatively new field. If such an assessment can be done using a simple and non-invasive approach with a reasonable level of sensitivity and specificity, the resulting characterization of the population's mental health can help public health and mental health professionals better understand the distribution of mental health issues in the population and design better systems to help identify, address and mitigate these issues before they become more serious. Among measures that have been suggested by the CDC as potential tools for assessing population well-being and mental health is the frequency with which people experience poor mental health. This measure is based on the single question, "How many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?" Respondents who report that they experienced 14 or more days when their mental health was "not good" were classified as experiencing "Frequent Mental Distress" ("FMD"). Although FMD is not a clinical diagnosis, evidence suggests that it is associated with a person's mental health status. A 2011 study by Bossarte et al. concluded that 6 or more days of poor mental health ("Mental Distress") could be used as a valid and reliable indicator of generalized mental distress with strong associations to both diagnosable depressive symptomology and serious mental illness.

Other Objectives

Substance Abuse Epidemiology Report Indicator Mental Health Report Indicator New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI)

How Are We Doing?

The prevalence of Mental Distress in NM has consistently been similar to the overall US prevalence since 2004. Before 2011 (when the survey stratification methodology changed), the prevalence of Mental Distress among adults increased slightly from 16.8% in 2004 to 18.5% in 2010. Since 2011, the prevalence of Mental Distress in NM has remained relatively stable. In 2016, 18.6% of adults in NM reported 6 or more days of poor mental health in the past 30 days.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Since 2011, the NM prevalence has remained relatively stable while the US prevalence has decreased significantly. In 2014, the NM prevalence (18.4%) was significantly higher than the US prevalence (16.7%).

What Is Being Done?

The Department of Health Epidemiology and Response Division conducts ongoing surveillance for indicators of mental health among students and adults in every county of New Mexico. The Human Services Department recently modernized the New Mexico Medicaid system by integrating physical and behavioral health services which will help treat an individual in a more holistic manner.

Evidence-based Practices

For reviews of evidence-based practices, please see: -US Preventive Services Task Force: [] -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Community Guide: [] -Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices: []

Health Program Information

The BRFSS is an ongoing survey of adults regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Data are collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The survey is conducted using scientific telephone survey methods for landline and cellular phones (landline only from 1986 through 2010; landline and cellular since 2011).
The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Thu, 05 August 2021 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Wed, 12 Dec 2018 16:32:28 MST