Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Alabama’s #2 Health Concern

Alabamians identified mental health and substance abuse as the second greatest current health concern in Alabama. Fortunately, it is possible to obtain comprehensive data on the status of suicide and substance abuse mortality from death certificate data collected by the ADPH’s Center for Health Statistics. In addition, BRFSS has data on depression available at the PHA level. However, data for mental health conditions and substance abuse prevalence are not as complete or comprehensive. ADPH only has limited claims data which does not cover the total population.

Mental health care and substance abuse are major problems in Alabama. State government spends a large part of its budget for corrections incarcerating substance abusers. In addition, Alabama has a serious shortage of mental health providers, especially in rural areas.

Alabama Mental Health and Substance Abuse Highlights

Suicide and drug related mortality have increased in recent years, with suicide ranking as the eleventh leading cause of death in 2013. Poor mental health affects thousands of Alabamians and many illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated because of a shortage of providers. In addition, thousands more are in prison because of substance abuse. Mental health problems affect the rich and poor, African American and Caucasian, urban and rural residents, and place a heavy burden on the economy and society.

Health Indicators

The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state of and monitoring future changes regarding mental health and substance abuse in the population of Alabama:


Page last updated: April 24, 2019