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Substance Abuse Epidemiology Profile for Mental Health - Adult Self-reported Mental Distress

Problem Statement

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.
In 2017, the NM prevalence of Mental Distress (6+ days) was 20.2%, significantly higher compared to that of the US (18.4%). The NM prevalence has shown a significant upward trend since 2015, while the US prevalence saw a similar trend beginning in 2014.


Chart 1. Adult Mental Distress by Year, New Mexico and U.S., 2004-2017

Adult Mental Distress by Year, New Mexico and U.S., 2004-2017

::chart - missing::
confidence limits

Data Notes

These data are from the NM Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 years and older. It is conducted annually by the NM Department of Health Survey Unit in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Responses are weighted to reflect the general New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership.   Estimates for 2011 and forward should not be compared to earlier years due to a change in survey stratification methodology.

Data Sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data, [https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence].

Table 1. Adult Frequent Mental Distress by Age, Sex and Race/Ethnicity, New Mexico, 2014-2016

Percentage with Frequent Mental Distress
Sex and Race/EthnicityAges 18-24Ages 25-64Ages 65+All Ages
Male, American Indian22.517.328.30
Male, Asian/Pacific Islander**7.4**0
Male, Black**22.6**0
Male, Hispanic19.516.813.10
Male, White27.615.48.20
Male, All Races22.216.410.80
Female, American Indian2016.520.20
Female, Asian/Pacific Islander**16.9**0
Female, Black**24**0
Female, Hispanic19.121.512.50
Female, White25.421.213.10
Female, All Races21.821.213.40
Both Sexes, American Indian21.216.923.20
Both Sexes, Asian/Pacific Islander**12.2**0
Both Sexes, Black**23.214.40
Both Sexes, Hispanic19.319.212.80
Both Sexes, White26.618.310.90
Both Sexes, All Races2218.812.20


Data Notes

These data are from the NM Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 years and older. It is conducted annually by the NM Department of Health Survey Unit in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Responses are weighted to reflect the general New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership.   (#) Values are unstable. (##) Values are very unstable. (**) Data suppressed due to small numbers.

Data Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.

Problem Statement (continued)

Across both sexes and all races, the prevalence of adults ages 65 or older who experienced Mental Distress was significantly lower than those ages 18-64. Among those 25-64 years of age, females reported significantly more Mental Distress than males. Among those 65+ years of age, AI/ANs reported a significantly higher prevalence of Mental Distress compared to Hispanics and Whites.

Table 2. Adult Frequent Mental Distress by County and Race/Ethnicity, New Mexico, 2015



Data Notes

These data are from the NM Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 years and older. It is conducted annually by the NM Department of Health Survey Unit in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Responses are weighted to reflect the general New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership.   (#) Values are unstable. (**) Data suppressed due to small numbers. The county-level BRFSS data used for this indicator report were weighted to be representative of the New Mexico Health Region populations. Had the data been weighted to be representative of each county population, the results would likely have been different. The county-level BRFSS data used for this indicator report were weighted to be representative of the New Mexico Health Region populations. Had the data been weighted to be representative of each county population, the results would likely have been different.

Data Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.

Chart 2. Adult Mental Distress by County, New Mexico, 2017



Adult Mental Distress by County, New Mexico, 2017

::chart - missing::
confidence limits

Data Notes

These data are from the NM Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 years and older. It is conducted annually by the NM Department of Health Survey Unit in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Responses are weighted to reflect the general New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership.   (#) Values are unstable (**) Data suppressed due to small numbers The county-level BRFSS data used for this indicator report were weighted to be representative of the New Mexico Health Region populations. Had the data been weighted to be representative of each county population, the results may have been different.

Data Sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data, [https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence].

Chart 3. Adult Frequent Mental Distress by County, New Mexico, 2016

Adult Frequent Mental Distress by County, New Mexico, 2016

supplemental image

Data Notes

These data are from the NM Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 years and older. It is conducted annually by the NM Department of Health Survey Unit in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Responses are weighted to reflect the general New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership.
Page Content Updated On 12/12/2018, Published on 12/12/2018
The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site (http://ibis.health.state.nm.us). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Wed, 03 June 2020 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://ibis.health.state.nm.us".

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