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Millions Suffer From Mental Illness, Half Do Not Get Treatment

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Friends of Adam Lanza's mother say she was frustrated by a lack of support for families dealing with mental illness.

But what Nancy Lanza didn't know, as she coped with her son's withdrawn behavior, is the number of people suffering with the effects of mental illness is in the millions.

"That's a lot of people," said Dana Beard, PR Director for National Alliance on Mental Illness's Fort Worth office.

"One in four adults and one in ten children are diagnosed with a mental problem each year. And half do not get the treatment they need. It's very sad. Very sad."

Statistics show the U.S. spends $113 billion a year on mental health care, which ranks among the most in the world.

But, nearly ninety million people live in areas defined as having a shortage of mental health professionals.

Experts say the lack of visible support leaves people in need feeling isolated.

A survey of mental health patients conducted by the journal "Psychiatric Services" shows 71% of mental health patients surveyed say they identify with the statement, "I wanted to solve mental health problems on my own."

And that the lack of visible support often leaves families covering up their loved one's illness.

"Stigma is associated with that," Beard said. "I think some are fearful of coming out and letting it be known I have this in my family. I tell people, 'Everyone knows someone. There is not a family out there that is not dealing with a mental illness."

Beard says prior to the Newtown shooting, mental health resources were ignored in the media and their budgets were cut in Washington D.C.

Now, they're hoping a tragedy in Connecticut may lead to new attention and resources for people in need of mental health help.

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