As a result of high unemployment rates, loss of financial stability, and the rise of fears about terrorism, the modern American psyche of 2017 is rooted in the effects of the Great Recession era of 2008-2009. As the country continues to move forward in better economic times, researchers have been unraveling the impact that the recession era had on mental illness in America.
Patients Coping Successfully Until the Recession
Research shows that the unemployment rate jumped from almost 6% in 2008 to over 9% in 2009, the highest yearly increase since the mid 1970s. As more Americans lost their jobs, many of those newly employed were hit severely by their new economic reality and either had to file for bankruptcy, allow their home to be foreclosed upon, or both.
Among those hit the hardest by the economic and social changes caused by the Great Recession were those with mental health issues that were having success coping with their illnesses. Judith Weissman, a leading mental health researcher, studied the link between the recession and mental illness and poignantly noted, “People who had mental illness just could not recover. Maybe they were holding it together, they had a job, they had some resources, and then they got wiped out with this recession, and they couldn’t get back on their feet.”
Communities Can Suffer When Mental Illness Goes Untreated
As people lost their jobs, they also lost their health benefits, which left many people with mental illness in America unable to afford the needed treatment and medications. According to one report, during the height of the recession, over 56% of people dealing with a mental health issue did not receive any treatment.
Studies show that untreated mental health issues can have a great impact on communities. In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that developed nations lose several billion dollars annually due to a loss of productivity because of untreated mental health issues. Similarly, a Harvard study showed that the United States loses more than 4 million work days annually to untreated mental health illness in America and over 20 million days of impaired performance due to the effects of mental illnesses.
Furthermore, there are several studies that show the link between untreated mental illness in America and an increase in violent and unlawful behavior throughout the country. A study of the Pinellas County jail in Florida found that untreated mental health disorders had a direct correlation to an increased risk of misdemeanor arrests as well as an increase in total days incarcerated.
Cases Kept Increasing While Access to Care Declined
Research also shows a staggering rise in the number of mental health cases during the recession era. Between 2008 and 2014 almost 20% of adult Americans self-reported a mental health issue, and almost 5% of the population altogether received a diagnosis for a serious mental illness. In addition, nearly 8 billion Americans ages 12 or older admitted to struggling with both a mental illness and substance abuse.
One of the biggest challenges for many recession era Americans who still deal with mental health issues is the continuing inability to find affordable mental health services. As of just a couple years ago, over 7 million Americans with mental health issues were uninsured, and roughly 50% of adults with untreated mental health issues stated that cost was the main reason they did not receive mental health treatment. Even insured Americans do not always have the option of receiving the care they need, often due to availability of services. A recent report found that many communities have as little as one facility to serve every 1,100 residents.
Are You Seeking Treatment for a Mental Illness in America?
Whether you are seeking treatment for you or a loved one, Morningside Recovery offers dual diagnosis to help people get a handle mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Plus, if a drug or alcohol addiction is compounding the issue, our innovative and personalized treatment plans can help you achieve a sustainable, sober lifestyle.