Mental Health Realities

As mentioned here before, WordPress allows me to track blog visits based upon search strings that were used to refer visitors to the PolicyPub.  I have noted recently a prevalence of searches on Mental Health, likely owing to the national discussion and debate on Gun Control now taking place in lieu of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December.

I recently wrote a post (Obama’s Opportunity Missed) explaining why I feel the President missed a golden opportunity to raise the level of social awareness and consciousness concerning the difficult and growing challenges that mental and behavioral health present to our society.  As a follow up to that, I wanted to share with Pub visitors information that was recently presented by Pamela Hyde, the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the Third Annual Public Health Law Research Meeting in New Orleans on January 18th.

According to Ms. Hyde, “people are just beginning to wake up to the knowledge that behavioral health issues are so common . . . “ yet among the eight million people worldwide in the past year who had a mental illness or substance abuse disorder, only 6.9% received treatment.  She added that, “the country has to spend as much time helping children develop their emotional skills as they do their soccer skills.” 

Links to Ms. Hyde’s slide presentation, data cites, and meeting Q&A can be found at the bottom of this post.  Provided below are a few snippets taken directly from her presentation that I found particularly impactful.

Prevalence & Incidence
Approximately one-half of all Americans will meet criteria for mental illness at some point in their lives

Mental and Substance Use Disorders rank among the top 5 diagnoses associated with 30-day readmissions, accounting for about one in five of all Medicaid readmissions (12.4 percent for Mental Disorders and 9.3 percent for Substance Use Disorders)

Comorbidity
7% of the adult population (34 million people), have co-morbid mental and physical conditions within a given year

Co-morbid depression or anxiety increases physical and mental health care expenditures

Impact on Physical Health
24 percent of pediatric primary care office visits and ¼ of all adult stays in community hospitals involve Mental or Substance Use Disorders

Adults who had any mental illness, serious mental illness, or major depressive episodes in the past year had increased rates of hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke

Cost of Care
Average monthly expenditure for a person with a chronic disease and depression is $560 dollars more than for a person without depression

General medical costs were 40% higher for people treated with bipolar disorder than those without it

Perception of Value
Mental illnesses account for 15.4% of total burden of disease, yet mental health expenditures in the U.S. account for only 6.2%

The public is less willing to pay to avoid mental illnesses compared to paying for treatment of medical conditions

Top reasons for not receiving treatment include:
     • Inability to afford care (50.1%)
     • Problem can be handled without care (28.8%)
     • Not knowing where to go for care (16.2%)
     • Not having the time (15.1%)

The SAMHSA Web site referenced above includes a large knowledgebase of useful, understandable resources and information on mental/behavioral health and substance abuse.  If you are interested in learning more about the very difficult public policy issues surrounding Mental Health, I invite you to check it out.

Cheers,
  Sparky

Link to Slides: Click …
                                    

Link to Q&A: Click …
                                   

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Policy Prescriptions ®

The Evidence-Based Health Policy™ Experts

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By Dr. Bill Thomas

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