5 Things to Know About Mental Health Issues and Treatment

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Mental health disorders are rising in prevalence around the world and will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. Here are 5 things about mental health during Mental Health Month this May.

Patients who have a chronic health condition have a higher likelihood of having a mental health condition, and 1 in 5 people will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In addition, mental health disorders are on the rise in every country and will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030, according to research published in 2018 by The Lancet Commission on Mental Health and Sustainable Development.1

Here are 5 things about mental health during Mental Health Month.

1. Barriers remain to patients receiving treatment for depression

Recent research published in JAMA Psychiatry showed that changes in policy for coverage of mental health services, treatment availability, and recommendations have led to reduced uninsured burden, even as outpatient treatment of and overall spending for depression has increased.2 However, the treatment rate for depression remains below the reported rate of depression in age subgroups of the population. These lower-than-expected rates of treatment suggest that barriers remain, the authors concluded.

2. Mental health issues are on the rise for adolescents and young adults

Social media may be a reason for the rising rates of mental health problems among adolescents and young adults. Research from the American Psychological Association has shown that between 2008 and 2017, the amount of adults who experienced serious psychological distress increased among most age groups, but the largest increases were seen among adults between the ages of 18 and 25. In comparison, the rate of serious psychological distress declined among adults aged 65 and older.


3. Millennials’ poor health is driven by behavioral health issues

Millennials are less healthy than Generation X at the same age, and those differences are driven by mental health issues, according to a report from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Among the top 10 conditions, ranked by adverse health impact, affecting millennials were major depression, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, hyperactivity, and psychotic conditions.

4. Mental health issues can interfere with meeting work requirements in Medicaid

With work requirements in Medicaid remaining a topic of hot discussion and being challenged in the courts, new research found that Medicaid enrollees who have serious mental health issues are less likely than those without to work enough hours a week to keep their Medicaid coverage in some states. Enrollees with serious mental health illness were less than half as likely to work the 20 hours, which means they would not meet the requirements in Arkansas and those poised to take effect in Kentucky.

In March, a federal judge invalidated those work requirement rules.

5. Mental health is an issue that employers want to address

With rising incidence of mental health illness and the increased costs associated with those conditions, employers are paying more attention to the mental health of their employees. In a new Willis Towers Watson survey, 54% of employers who responded said they wanted to improve access to high-quality mental health services and 47% were concerned with improving substance use treatment. About half of employers said they were planning to expand access to mental health services by offering onsite or near-site mental health services by 2020.


1. Patel V, Saxena S, Lund C, et al. The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development. Lancet. 2018;392(10157):1553-1598. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31612-X.

2. Hockenberry JM, Joski P, Yarbrough C, Druss BG. Trends in treatment and spending for patients receiving outpatient treatment of depression in the United States, 1998-2015 [published online April 24, 2019]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0633.