There was a time when mental health problems were kept “hush hush”. People were ashamed or embarrassed to talk about things like PTSD, anxiety, depression, or even more serious disorders. Thankfully, modern society has destigmatized these mental health problems, which enables people with neurological, psychological, emotional, and physical disorders to get help without being seen as “weird”.

But here’s a pretty startling fact: only 17% of people in the world DON’T suffer from some sort of mental health problem throughout the course of their life. That’s pretty serious!

The Surgeon General has stated that 1 in 5 people (20%) suffer from psychiatric disorders, a claim supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This may seem high to some, but a new study found that the statistics were even higher than that.

A team of researchers followed 1,000 New Zealanders for 35 years—from the age of 3 to 38. They carried out regular mental health assessments and found that only 17% of the participants didn’t meet the criteria for psychiatric disorders at some point in their lives. That means 83% of people DID suffer from psychiatric problems during their lives.

Granted, the majority of the problems included things like anxiety, substance abuse, or depression, many of which were simply temporary problems. However, many of the people discovered they had mental health conditions that affected them more severely than they expected.

I know a lot of people will roll their eyes at this discovery. It’s easy to shrug off mental health problems as being “the popular explanation” for behavioral or social problems. Many people will ignore this statistic, instead of learning from it.

I’d say it’s a good indicator that mental health problems can hit anyone at any time, and that it pays to be aware of your mental health. As the study found, many of the mental health problems were temporary—the substance abuse, depression, or anxiety cleared up given time. However, knowing that there’s a chance you could develop mental health problems emphasizes the importance of making the lifestyle choices that will promote a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.