Mental Illness Costs U.S. Billions in Lost Earnings
13 minutes ago
THURSDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Serious mental illness costs Americans
at least $193 billion a year in lost earnings alone, a new report shows.
The study broadly defines mood and anxiety disorders that greatly limit a person's
ability to function for at least 30 days a year, including instances of any
condition linked to suicidal behaviors or frequent violent acts, as serious
mental illness (SMI).
"Lost earning potential, costs associated with
treating coexisting conditions, Social Security payments, homelessness and
incarceration are just some of the indirect costs associated with mental
illnesses that have been difficult to quantify," Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director
of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a prepared statement. "This
study shows us that just one source of these indirect costs is staggeringly
Insel's agency funded the study. The results were published in the May
issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.
The researchers analyzed 2002 data collected from a nationally representative study of almost 5,000 Americans, aged 18 to 64, to determine earnings lost in the year prior to the survey. They found that respondents with SMI reported receiving about 40 percent less in earnings than those without serious mental disorders, who earned an average
Researchers arrived at the $193.2 billion figure by extrapolating these results to the general population. They figured most of this comes from the lessened amount of income people with SMI were likely to earn, while the rest of the loss comes from the increased odds that their mental state would prevent them from having any earnings at all.
"The results of this study confirm the belief that mental disorders contribute to enormous losses of human productivity," lead researcher Ronald C. Kessler, of Harvard University, said in a prepared statement. "Yet this estimate is probably conservative, because the [survey used] did not assess people in hospitals or prisons, and included very few participants with autism, schizophrenia or other chronic illnesses that are known to greatly affect a person's ability to work. The actual costs are probably higher that what we have estimated."
More information The U.S. Surgeon General has more about mental illness.
Copyright © 2008 HealthDay.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I thought this was a pretty interesting story given that Mental Health is both under-diagnosed and treatment under-funded.