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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Half-Trillion-Dollar Depression

The New York Times
Published: July 2, 2013

Mental illness has been an increasingly significant health concern over the past several decades, but it’s now becoming an economic one too. The number of Americans who receive Social Security Disability Insurance for mental disorders has doubled during the past 15 years. Eliza is now one of an estimated 11.5 million American adults with a debilitating mental illness, on whom the country spends about $150 billion annually on direct medical costs — therapy, drugs, hospitalizations and so forth. But the biggest blow to the overall economy are the many hidden, indirect costs. People with serious mental illness earn, on average, $16,000 less than their mentally well counterparts, totaling about $193 billion annually in lost earnings, according to a 2008 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. And many mentally ill workers, who are more likely to miss work, also suffer from what social scientists call presenteeism — the opposite of absenteeism — in which they are very likely to be less productive on the job when they show up.


Even though tens of millions of people will get more coverage, estimates suggest that only 1.15 million new users will take advantage of mental-health services. A lot of people who will be extended coverage don’t need care; others, fearful of the stigma around mental health, may not take it. What’s more distressing, from both an economic and a social perspective, is that a lot of people who do muster the courage still won’t get the right kind of treatment. About half of Americans who seek care for serious mental illnesses get treatment that does not help them or is not even recommended for their condition.

The entire article is here.
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