Treatment of mental health conditions has long been the most underfunded aspect of the American health care system (the other contender is preventive care, but the Affordable Care Act has finally taken steps to address it). People with mental health disorders are frequently denied not only the funding to seek appropriate treatment but also, all too often, recognition that they even suffer from a disorder to begin with. Conditions that can be as debilitating as a physical disability are dismissed as existing ‘only in the sufferer’s head’, and schools are forced to deal with a myriad of separate conditions by cramming students into catch-all special needs classes that cannot provide the individual attention they require.
Therefore, it’s disheartening to hear of the double whammy that mental health patients have suffered as a result of the recession. A new study from Brandeis’s Dominic Hodgkin reports that state and local mental health services have been substantially cut in the past few years; meanwhile, the difficulties of living in a recession economy have caused demand for mental health services to increase. These effects have been seen on a global as well as national scale.
If all this seems self-evident (of course recessions lead to spending cuts!), then check out the press release for more details or read Hodgkin’s full study in the International Journal of Mental Health. While the conclusions are grim, it’s always great to see Brandeis researchers contributing to understanding global issues, and I hope that Hodgkin can play a small role in finding a solution to the mental health crisis.