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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Many People with Mental Health Disorders Do Not Receive Treatment

Most U.S. adults with mental health disorders did not receive treatment for their conditions in the last year, and treatment rates were especially low for substance use disorders, according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health epidemiology professor Dr. Mark Olfson, in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Because of changes in public and personal attitudes toward mental health treatment, shifts in the healthcare policy landscape and alterations in the clinical context within which mental health services are provided, it is important to have timely information on patterns of mental health treatment,” said Dr. Olfson, who is also a professor of psychiatry and with the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Using 2012 to 2013 data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, Dr. Olfson and colleagues analyzed past 12-month disorder-specific mental health treatment patterns of common DSM-5 disorders in 36,309 U.S. adults. They estimated percentages of respondents with mood, anxiety and substance use disorders who received disorder-specific treatment in year prior.

Analyses showed that people with mood disorders received treatment most often (38 percent) followed by anxiety disorders (24 percent), but less than one in five of people received treatment for substance use disorders (19 percent).

“Progress has been made in increasing treatment of adults with depression and reflects the combined efforts of policymakers, advocates, patients and clinicians,” Dr. Olfson said. “Such programs should inspire broader initiatives to promote public acceptance of mental health and substance use treatment, reform approaches to reimburse costs of care and develop a healthcare workforce capable of narrowing gaps in unmet treatment needs.”

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