The Cost of Untreated Mental Illness

January 26, 2017

Why the importance of mental health care is newsworthy outside the context of mass violence

We now live in an age where we aren’t surprised to learn of episodes of mass violence on the evening news. It’s a growing problem in the United States and has sparked an urgent discussion over its root causes and what we can do to prevent future occurrences. Such discussions have ignited the public interest in mental health, and though mental health is a topic worthy of public discussion, to broach it in the context of violence is problematic for a couple of big reasons.

First, the correlation between mental illness and violence is a well-perpetuated myth, and to continue to think of mental health in this way is to invite stigma.

To learn more about common behavioral health myths and realities, click here.

Secondly, attributing mass shootings to an ineffective mental healthcare system undermines the quality work that providers do every day—work that not only improves population health, but maintains an economically viable healthcare system.

In our infographic below, we offer a quick breakdown of what untreated mental illness costs society when left unchecked.

1 ”E.R. Costs for Mentally Ill Soar, and Hospitals Seek Better Way”, last modified December 25, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/.
2 ”Guilty of mental illness”, last modified April 27, 2015, http://chicagoreporter.com/.
3 ”A shocking number of mentally ill Americans end up in prison instead of treatment”, last modified April 30, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/.
4 Steven Melek and Doug Norris, Chronic Conditions and Comorbid Psychological Disorders, 2008.
5 ”Mental Disorders Cost Society Billions in Unearned Income”, last modified May 7, 2008, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/.

Promoting awareness is an important step in the continued improvement of behavioral health care. Interested in contributing? Click any of the social media buttons below to share.

Last Updated: January 19, 2018