How affordable is mental healthcare? The long-term impact on financial health
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Since the start of the pandemic, mental health has declined for many Americans, with more individuals reporting mental illness since 2019.
Those diagnosed with mental illness have disproportionately faced economic disadvantages and report greater financial stress. Affordability barriers are compounding these challenges by limiting mental health access for many in need.
The lower sense of financial security reported by those with mental illness underscores the importance of holistic care for behavioral health—not just treating mental illness symptoms but considering the broader needs an individual with mental illness may have.
Holistic approaches, such as supportive housing and supportive employment, can improve outcomes across both healthcare and broader functioning in society
Twenty percent of respondents who report mental illness disclose not being on track to meet short-term financial obligations (such as rent/mortgage, groceries, transportation) compared with 12 percent of respondents who did not report mental illness.
The disparity worsens when considering long-term financial goals with a 14 percentage point difference in respondents with mental illness reporting they feel off track.
Respondents who report mental illness were on average 66 percent more likely to report debt across all categories than respondents who did not report mental illness.
An association exists between mental illness and higher levels of debt and debt-related stress. This association may arise from initial debt leading to stress and triggering an underlying susceptibility for mental illness.
Mental health services and childcare were listed by respondents as the least affordable among essential services (for example, nutritious food, internet, health insurance, reliable transportation).
Respondents who report mental illness were two times more likely to perceive mental health services as unaffordable. Other studies have indicated that consumers are up to 40 percent less willing to pay for mental health services than services for generic physical health conditions.
Those who report having a mental health condition but have not sought treatment for it are 60 percent more likely to declare mental health services unaffordable.
This holds true when controlling for reported household income, as those who reported mental illness but have not sought treatment were still approximately 1.7 times more likely to report mental health services were unaffordable on average.
A study published by Mental Health America found nearly nine in ten employees report that workplace stress affects their mental health, and that nearly three in five employees feel their employer does not provide a safe environment for employees who live with mental illness, demonstrating the workplace could be a challenging setting.
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