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Treatment of Mental Illness Saves Your Taxpayer Dollars

Treatment of Mental Illness Saves Your Taxpayer DollarsEmerging research suggests outpatient treatment of mental illness significantly reduces arrest rates for people with mental health problems — and saves taxpayers money to boot.

Researchers looked at the extent to which treating mental illness can keep people with mental health problems out of trouble with the law.

“This study shows that providing mental health care is not only in the best interest of people with mental illness, but in the best interests of society,” said Sarah Desmarais, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and co-author of the paper.

It is well-established that people with mental health problems — such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — make up a disproportionate percentage of defendants, inmates and others who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

In the study, researchers identified 4,056 people who had been hospitalized for mental illness in 2004 or 2005 and then tracked them from 2005 to 2012.

The investigators were able to determine which individuals were receiving government-subsidized medication and which were receiving government-subsidized outpatient services, such as therapy.

The researchers were also able to determine who was arrested during the seven-year study period.

“Our research shows that people receiving medication were significantly less likely to be arrested,” Desmarais said. “Outpatient services also resulted in a decreased likelihood of arrest.”

The researchers also compared criminal justice costs with mental health treatment costs. Individuals who were arrested received less treatment and each cost the government approximately $95,000 during the study period.

Individuals who were not arrested received more treatment and each cost the government approximately $68,000 during the study period.

“It costs about $10 less per day to provide treatment and prevent crime. That’s a good investment,” Desmarais said.

The paper is found in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Source: North Carolina State University

Mental illness word collage photo by shutterstock.

Treatment of Mental Illness Saves Your Taxpayer Dollars

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Treatment of Mental Illness Saves Your Taxpayer Dollars. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/06/11/treatment-of-mental-illness-saves-your-taxpayer-dollars/55890.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.