While a recession has been bad for health products and services in general, it’s been a boon for mental health industry.

Recession? Mental Health Service Use Doubled

Data comes from a survey of 3,307 adults surveyed once in January and again in April 2009. The survey found that people actually spending and using various health services and products — primarily the use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, physician services, dental services, and health/personal care goods — fell during that time period.

During the same time period, demand for psychiatric and mental health services nearly doubled — from 4 percent in January to 7 percent in April. Job loss, loss of your home, and lack of discretionary income likely drives more people to seek out help for feeling depressed, anxious or other emotional upset about the effects of the economic woes.

I think this trend is both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate in that many people recognize the troubles in their lives and are seeking services to help with them, even as their own budgets are constrained. This is, I think, far different than one might have found during the 1930s and the Great Depression. But this trend is also unfortunate insomuch that so many people are suffering in this economy and need such services.

I wish the survey had measured use of online health and mental health resources, self-help resources, interactive programs, social networking websites, and support groups. It would be interesting to see if the recession also affects use of such resources, all of which tend to be free and readily available.

Read the full article at Health Populi: Demand for health products and services is down in the recession; thinking about value and self-care in health