White adults with mental illness far more likely to report insufficient health care use

White adults with mental illness far more likely to report insufficient health care use

Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. It is a common occurrence in the American population. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that one out of every six American adults lives with a mental illness. According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 44.7 million adults were afflicted with mental illness in the past year, representing around 18.3 percent of the adult population aged 18 or older. Moreover, an estimated 10.4 million adults had severe psychological distress in the past year.

Mental illnesses include various mental health conditions that affect a person’s thinking, emotions and mood. Moreover, these disorders vary in severity, ranging from mild to severe. Such conditions may adversely affect a person’s ability to relate to others and his or her capacity to function each day. Among the 44.7 million adults with mental illness, around 19.2 million (43.1 percent) received mental health services in the past year. Furthermore, about 6.7 million of the 10.4 million adults (64.8 percent) suffering from a serious mental illness (SMI) received mental health services in the past year.

Recently, a study, led by Judith Weissman (PhD)  and published in the journal Psychiatric Services, compared health care access and utilization among adults suffering from psychological distress on the basis of race-ethnicity and gender in the years encompassing the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Disparities between whites and other ethno-racial groups in mental health treatment

For the study, researchers used data from the 2006-2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using the data, they compared the growing disparities between white adults with mental illness and those from other ethno-racial groups in terms of their ability to access health care services.

Some of the primary indicators studied included the inability to get necessary prescriptions because of the lack of money, delay in health care, having insufficient money for health care, visits to the doctor greater than 10 times in the past year, change in place of health care due to insurance or other reasons, etc. The researchers found that 50 percent of the white adults were more likely to experience delays in care compared to blacks.

Moreover, around 20 percent of them were more likely to have inadequate finances for accessing treatment, doctor visits and prescription drugs. Another popular trend witnessed was that a majority of whites with serious psychiatric disorders are likely to use private insurance compared to Hispanics and black adults with the similar levels of distress. In addition to this, black adults are more likely to have Medicaid.

According to the researchers, this phenomenon can be linked to the Great Recession of 2008-2009, which led to mass unemployment that automatically led to a rapid decline in the private health insurance coverage across all ethno-racial groups. Though the white patients started using private insurance coverage with the return of the employment, they were not able to get the coverage under Medicaid like blacks and Hispanics.

The study revealed that an economic recession can jeopardize the health coverage for the mentally ill, particularly if it is dependent on private coverage through employment. Therefore, one of the reasons behind the poor health outcomes among the white middle-aged adults is the limited access to health care. In the light of the above revelation, greater attention needs to be paid to the health care patterns among adults with serious psychological distress.

Give priority to mental health

Mental health is one of the most important elements of one’s well-being. Any adverse impact on mental health can affect the way one thinks, feels, communicates, learns and views himself or herself and the world. Moreover, it can push a person toward substance abuse. Being the cornerstone of good life, it is the key to building healthy relationships and ensuring personal and emotional well-being.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health issue, contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline to know more about the Florida mental health rehab center. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online to get more information.

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