The Recognition Mental Health Deserves

Mental health issues in America are currently being vastly overlooked.


Mental health should not cause a family to go into debt, but that is often the case. Treatment for mental health issues is extremely expensive and often is paid out of pocket by the patient or their family due to lack of health insurance coverage. State mental health institutions are also severely underfunded, as is research being done to discover new treatments and other options for patients. Many Americans are unaware of the hardships that face people with mental health disabilities or don’t recognize this issue as a “real” issue.

One in four people will experience some form of a mental health condition at some point in their life. That is a very high percentage of the population, for our population to be undereducated about mental health issues.

The most expensive medical conditions in the country are depression and anxiety, with the estimated expenses being $201 billion in 2013 alone. To put this in perspective of just how expensive something like anxiety or depression can be, heart disease is the second most expensive medical condition in the country at $143 billion, which is significantly less than the expenses for depression or anxiety.

Today the estimated expenses for the 6 percent of adults in the United States with a diagnosed long-term mental illness is $300 billion. This is not including people with anxiety or depression, undiagnosed people, or children who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Many people with conditions such as schizophrenia will not be accepted by health care providers because of their pre-existing medical condition. This means that medications and treatments that are already estimated to be 400 dollars a day after insurance will not be covered, making health care coverage extremely expensive on the individual and their family.

A new health care reform will go into effect soon to change this, making insurance providers no longer able to deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition. This is a step in the right direction, but how expensive the insurance plans for individuals with pre-existing conditions will be, or how much of the individual’s expenses will be covered by the insurance providers is still unclear. For example, Medicare does not pay for all expenses for a mental health diagnosis and will only cover 190 days of inpatient care for the rest of that patient’s lifetime. If the patient is required to have constant treatment that goes over the allotted 190-day period, the patient is expected to cover those costs out of pocket.

Due to treatments being so expensive, many people will go off their medication because they cannot afford it. Often, people will also go undiagnosed with mental illnesses due to this fact as well.

In the last few years, Mississippi has created the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, which has been hard at work trying to reform the way the population thinks about mental health issues. They help people with mental illnesses, addiction, and developmental disabilities. This is also a great step in the right direction; however, they are underfunded. In the last four years, they have only been able to get 15 of their projects successfully finished. Mississippi needs to push more money into reforming mental health and lowering costs for individuals with mental illnesses.

Medication alone is extremely expensive and is one of the reasons that mental illnesses cost as much as they do. The medication for a mental illness like ADHD costs around $200 a month without insurance. With insurance, this medication is $50 dollars a month, which is still expensive for something that you will have to purchase every month for the rest of your life. ADHD isn’t even a mental health issues where the medication is extremely expensive or requires more than one medication, so just imagine how expensive purchasing medication is for individuals with illnesses that require more than one medication.

Alternative methods of treatment, like electroshock therapy for treating depression has proven to be effective and minimally harmful. This treatment last for 6 months and is low cost, but it has a bad connotation because of the way it has been portrayed in movies. However, this treatment has been proven to be more effective than prescriptions, and the patients who have undergone this treatment say that it didn’t cause them any discomfort. Maybe more forms of treatment like this should be tested so that patients can get away from opioids and SSRIs.

The damage that some medications can cause can sometimes have effects that are not reversible, for example giving an SSRI to someone with presumed depression can cause that patient to have a manic episode, if they are bipolar type two and have never exhibited symptoms of mania before. More funding for research to find alternative treatments needs to be pushed for so that maybe one day it won’t be so expensive for someone to exist with a mental health issue.

We are behind the times with mental health issues and have a lot of catching up to do.