In recognition of Mental Health Month, Cyndy Nayer discusses the link between mental and physical health in her most recent video blog. In the United States, mental health is often treated differently and separately than clinical or physical health, but as Cyndy points out, mental and physical health are ultimately part of the same human system. Physical problems affect anxiety levels, which can lead to other mental health issues.
The facts speak for themselves:
- An undiagnosed and untreated mental health illness doubles the cost of the top five major diseases. [The World Health Report, Rice et al., 1990]
- According to World Health Organization, mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability in the world, more than cardiovascular disease, cancer, alcohol drug abuse, arthritis, diabetes and infectious disease. [World Health Organization, Depression, 2012]
- In 2002, serious mental health conditions were associated with $193 billion in lost earnings. [National Institutes of Health, Mental Disorders Cost Society Billions in Unearned Income, 2008]
- Mental health conditions cost more than $600 per person in the country. [World Health Organization, What is the Impact of Non-Communicable Diseases on National Health Expenditures: A Synthesis of Available Data, 2009 ]
- Mental health conditions cost more than annual revenue for every Fortune 500 company with the exception of Exxon Mobile and Wal-Mart. [Mental Health America, State of Mental Health America on Preventing Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People, 2009]
- Military personnel are increasingly developing issues in mental health, such as cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD), which affects their ability to become and stay employed. [CBS 60 Minutes, The Invisible Wounds of War, May 5, 2013]
Employers must examine the total costs of their workforce, identifying opportunities to create value-based benefits that screen for risk of depression and link to proficient mental health programs. Contracting with screening companies that include a depression screener is key, as is paying an incentive to primary care providers who include depression and mental health questions in their total collaborative care. The Lovelace Health Plan, as an example, has tackled mental health “head on” by using a short screen in their new value-based benefit program, and the leaders of Lovelace are encouraging other health plans and plan sponsors to make this bold move.
Ending mental health stigma is also paramount. Patients should talk to their physicians about which medications they should be taking to manage their mental health, which medications they are taking that could interfere or cause poorer mental health, and whether they should seek a specialist beyond their primary care physician.
Watch Cyndy’s video blog above and visit CyndyNayer.com for more information. For more on Cyndy’s take on mental health issues and quality-based health care, click Cyndy Nayer: mental health improves health care quality.