These two facts are hard to explain.
“Spending for all types of substance abuse treatment was just 0.9 percent of total health-care spending in 2017. Mental health treatment accounted for 2.4 percent of total spending.
In 2017, 70,237 Americans died of drug overdoses, and 47,173 from suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2018, nearly 20 percent of adults — more than 47 million people — experienced a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
To help put that in to perspective, I went and looked for a quick comparable statistic for other types of healthcare and the amount of money that was spent, and luckily enough I discovered that dental care was 4% of overall healthcare spending that same year, 2017.
Think about that for a minute. We spent more money on dental healthcare than we did on substance abuse and mental heath care, combined.
I’m not saying anyone should slack on their dental care, but I’m willing to bet poor dental care didn’t cause over 100,000 deaths too.
Of course, as the article points out, the fix isn’t a simple matter of spending more on mental healthcare, if no one is there to give it, or accepting insurance creates enough pain for mental healthcare providers that they refuse to accept any, than we obviously have a complicated issue. We don’t have enough resources, and too many of the ones we have, are inaccessible to too many people. That’s systemic failure.
The numbers speak for themselves. People with even good insurance, can’t get affordable, and local, mental healthcare, and that lack of care is actually getting worse, despite legislative efforts to make it better.
And many are dying because of it. Correcting it is going to take a lot of hard work, hard decisions, and serious discussions about how to help people, but we have to get serious about this. If not, we’ll look up next year and see more people lost. More children, parents, aunts, uncles, friends. Gone.