U.S. mental health spending rising rapidly

U.S. mental illness spending is rising faster than spending on any other category of healthcare, according to new data released this week by the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This fact is particularly noteworthy, given that little discussion has been given to controlling mental health costs in the ongoing, contentious debate over healthcare reform.

The cost for treating mental disorders rose from $35 billion (in 2006) to nearly $58 billion between 1996 and 2006, according to the AHRQ data. In fact, spending on mental illness grew faster than for heart disease, cancer, trauma-linked disorders and asthma, researchers noted.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans seeking treatment for depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions almost doubled, from 19 million to 36 million, the agency said.

A study released earlier this week, meanwhile, showed that antidepressant use among U.S. residents almost doubled during a similar time period, 1996 to 2005.

To get more AHRQ data:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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