Mental health inequities cost US $278B from 2016-20 

A lack of investment in mental healthcare has taken nearly 117,000 lives and cost the U.S. $278 billion from 2016 to 2020, a Sept. 8 report from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Atlanta-based Morehouse School of Medicine found.

Researchers from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute worked on the report with the Washington, D.C.-based Robert Graham Center and the Eugene S. Farley Jr. Health Policy Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. 

"This first-of-its-kind report is designed to inform all stakeholders on the ramifications of a chronically underfunded and siloed system of mental health care, with a particular focus on underserved and underrepresented communities," researchers wrote.

Noted limitations to the findings include behavioral health being excluded in many measures of overall burden of disease, lack of data available for youth and particularly youth under the age of 12, and restricted behavioral health data based on state preference due to interpretation of parity laws. 

Two key findings: 

  • The national estimates underrepresent the actual burden of mental and behavioral health conditions, as 5.8 million people, such as those incarcerated, are excluded from traditional sampling frames and national surveys.
  • Adequate treatment for marginalized and under-resourced populations could save $60 billion to $90 billion annually.

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