Untreated Mental Illness Costly to Society (Rep. Joe Sestak)

While mental illness is the leading disability in America, facing an estimated one in four adults over the age of 18, our country has not made the same investments in mental health as physical health. This is why I am proud to support and co-sponsor H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, a piece of legislation that will close loopholes that allow health plans to charge higher co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket limits and impose lower day and visit limits on mental health and addiction care.

The costs to society of untreated mental illness are greater than the costs of providing treatment. We currently spend three times as much on the indirect costs of mental illness as on treatment. Additionally, research indicates that 17 percent of our service members returning from Iraq experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and less than 40 percent of those affected receive mental health care treatment. Additionally over one third of returning veterans suffers from other mental health problem like depression or anxiety. It is our moral obligation to support the men and women who have wore the cloth of our nation when they return home, and is why Congress needs to act now.