Report finds mental health disparities in the U.S. result in $477 billion annual cost

Breaking the Cycle of Mental Health Inequities: The Financial Toll on Society and How to Address It

Lack of access to quality medical and mental health care is a significant issue in the country, leading to costly inequities that have a profound impact on society. According to a recent report from Deloitte and the Meharry School of Global Health, mental health inequities alone are projected to cost the U.S. over $477 billion this year, with projections of that number rising to nearly $1.3 trillion by 2040.

People of color, women, and those with low income are the most affected by these disparities in access to care. These inequities can also impact their physical health, making it more challenging to manage chronic conditions. If left untreated, mental health conditions can exacerbate and lead to higher healthcare costs, which can further perpetuate these inequities.

In addition to the financial costs of excess medical care, illness and sickness can also hinder an individual’s ability to work, resulting in lost productivity in the labor market. Premature death is another costly factor associated with mental health inequities that contributes significantly to the overall economic impact.

Addressing these health disparities requires investment in resources such as housing, education, food, and medical care. Thomas LaVeist at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine explains that while there may be an upfront cost associated with addressing these issues, doing nothing comes with its own set of significant financial repercussions in terms of lost productivity and increased healthcare costs down the line.

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