Racial mental health disparities cost the United States around $278 billion between 2016 and 2020, putting a price tag on a health equity issue that’s long plagued the nation, according to researchers from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine with support from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. [Patient Engagement HIT]
The researchers looked at the national prevalence of mental health needs, care utilization, additional healthcare costs attributable to mental health disparities, and premature death across indigenous and racial or ethnic minorities. The analysis showed that, between 2016 and 2020, the US saw an excess of 117,000 premature deaths among indigenous and racial or ethnic minorities due to mental health needs.
All said, the excess cost due to these mental health disparities was $278 billion. That additional cost burden links back to mental illness, substance use disorder (SUD), and suicide, the researchers said.
These findings indicate that the healthcare industry needs to make more judicious investments in mental and behavioral healthcare, according to Daniel E. Dawes, JD, DHL (Hon).
“Investing in mental healthcare saves lives and dollars — we have known this for decades, but until now did not fully understand the monumental impacts of neglecting to act,” Dawes, a professor and the executive director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and author of the Political Determinants of Health, said in a statement.
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