Americans may think life here is chugging along at a good pace. Unemployment is at the lowest levels in 50 years. Americans are living about nine years longer than people did in 1960. Violent crime has fallen in most major cities in the past half century.

But yet something is wrong. In 2017, 47,000 people died by suicide and 1.4 million people attempted suicide, handing the U.S. the highest level of suicide rates since World War II (1941-1945). And it’s getting worse. The U.S. suicide rate increased on average by about 1% a year from 2000 through 2016, and by 2% a year from 2006 through 2016.

The information contained here was gleaned from a well-written story by Cynthia Koons, which was published in a June issue of Bloomberg Business Week. The magazine credited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the data used in the story.

Although suicide is the starkest indicator of mental distress, others abound, according to Koons’ story. Drug overdoses claimed 70,000 lives in 2017, and 17.3 million, or 7% of U.S. adults reported suffering at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Life expectancy, perhaps the broadest measure of a nation’s health, has fallen for three straight years, in part because of the rise in drug overdoses and suicides, the first three-year drop since 1915 to 1918, according to the magazine.

The problems may have different and varied causes, Koons wrote, but what they add up is a national mental health epidemic. The damage is on the scale of the global financial crisis, “yet we lack the institutions, policies and determination to address it,” Koons wrote.

Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America, an advocacy group, claims the government’s response to the problem has been inadequate, the story noted. “The dollars have gone more to seep-end services in jails and prisons,” Gionfriddo was quoted as saying in the article.

Mental health problems manifest in a number of ways and encapsulate a wide range of conditions, including substance abuse disorders, crippling anxiety, schizophrenia and suicidality, according to the magazine article.

Whatever the causes, mental illness and substance abuse are social and economic catastrophes, and cost U.S. businesses a whopping $80 billion to $100 billion annually, according to a literature review put out by the Center for Workplace Mental Health. The review also showed that some two-thirds of people suffering from either mental health or substance abuse disorders don’t receive any treatment for their conditions.

Unchecked, mental health conditions can result in violence in America. For example, workplace shootings have become almost routine.

There’s much more information in the Bloomberg magazine article that is contained here, but it’s clear that America has plenty of work to do when it comes to treating mental health conditions. Mental health problems don’t only exist in the more populated cities across the country. They occur in small cities and rural communities.

We hope political candidates, at both the federal and state levels, are paying attention to the alarming mental health problems sweeping the country. Now is the time for them to outline their plans on how to fix this problem.