Study paints gloomy picture of US health services

With each passing day, more Americans than before are getting depressed and anxiety-ridden. What adds to the growing mental health crisis is that the nation lacks efficient psychiatric services. Now, a new study suggests that more people in the U.S. are suffering from serious psychological distress (SPD) than ever and that mental health care facilities are deteriorating amid the rising demand.

For the study, published in April 2017 in the journal Psychiatric Services, scientists at the NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed data from the 2006-2014 National Health Interview Survey that covered over 35,000 U.S. households involving more than 200,000 people aged 18-64 years across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The participants were examined on 11 indicators, including insufficient money for health care and medications, and seeing a mental health care provider.

According to the study, 3.4 percent (more than 8.3 million) of the adult U.S. population suffers from SPD. The researchers also concluded that health care pattern among adults with SPD required greater attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SPD includes mental health problems that are severe enough to cause moderate to serious impairment in school, social and occupational functioning requiring treatment.

Compared with adults without SPD, those with it were found to be at greater odds of lacking money for medication and health care. In addition, they also experienced delay in health care and limitations in their ability to work and daily activities. Those with SPD were also found to be visiting a health care professional 10 or more times in the past 12 months and changing usual place of health care due to insurance.

Patients lack money

According to the study’s lead author, Judith Weissman, the findings suggest that Americans with mental health conditions have poorer psychiatric care and encounter more hurdles when trying to access health care. As per the researchers, owing to the increased cost of the medicines, adults with mental illnesses were 10 times more likely to put off essential medicines.

The authors also discovered that adults with mental illness were three times more likely to delay in seeking medical care, were three times more likely to have visited a doctor more than 10 times in the past year for their overall health issues, and were also more likely to be uninsured. “Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession and other reasons worthy of further investigation.”

As per Weissman, basis the study data, millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower life quality and poorer life expectancy, and that their study also might explain the rise in the U.S. suicide rate. She added that next on her group’s agenda is how SPD underdiagnosis affects physician practices and encourages abuse of other health care services.

Road to recovery

The U.S. is in the throes of mental health crisis. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2015, there were over 43 million people aged 18 years or older in the country – representing about 18 percent of all adult population – with any mental illness (AMI) within the previous year.

If a loved one is suffering from any kind of mental health illness, get in touch with the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. We can help you find one of the best mental health counselors across the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our representatives to know the finest mental health programs for your disorder and start the journey to recovery today.