Spotlight, But Little Cash, For Mental Health Care In U.S.
Since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, mental health has made headlines nationally and locally. For a time, it seemed like everyone was talking about the importance of mental health care -- from politicians like President Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to stars like Demi Lovato and Bradley Cooper. But spending on mental health is seriously lagging behind when compared to other medical conditions. As Catherine Rampell of the New York Times reports, direct mental health spending in the U.S. has remained roughly 1 percent of the economy since 1986, while total health spending climbed from about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1986 to nearly 17 percent in 2009.
Dollars to doughnuts. As I wrote in a magazine column this week, mental illness costs the country a lot of money, primarily in indirect costs like lost worker productivity and increased use of the social safety net. That is one argument for why it might be cost-effective to increase national spending on the direct costs of treatment (like therapy, drugs, etc.).