New Survey Shows 50 Percent Cannot Afford Mental Health Services

For all the talk about mental health services as one of the preventive factors for violence like the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, new federal data give us insight into the barriers to receiving these services. Fifty percent of adults who had an unmet need for mental health care in 2011 said they could not afford the cost of that care.

SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services) released results from its 2011 national survey and included this table on reasons adults did not receive needed mental health care.

Source: Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, SAMSHA, Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 2011.

The results of this survey come on top of findings by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors that states have cut spending for public mental health services by at least $4.35 billion from 2009 to 2012. Among the 31 states that released spending amounts for 2012 to the association, more than $840 million was cut.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has also surveyed state budget cuts and reported cuts in state spending between 2009 and 2011 for 29 states ranging from 39.3 percent to 0.1 percent. The remaining 21 states posted funding increases and in the cases of Rhode Island, West Virginia, Maine, Oregon, Georgia and North Dakota there were double digit increases.