National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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The Business Case for Effective Mental Health Treatment The Business Case for Effective Substance Use Disorder Treatment


According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 41 million (18 percent) American adults had some form of mental illness and nearly 20 million (8 percent) had an addiction in 2011. Costs for treating patients with chronic medical conditions accompanied by mental illnesses and addictions can be two to three times higher than those without these disorders, totaling an estimated $293 billion in 2012 across commercially-insured, Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries in the United States.

Two new business cases outline straightforward, cost-saving solutions to America’s behavioral health needs by closing the gap between those needing behavioral health care and those receiving it. By better integrating medical and behavioral health care and expanding the use of evidence-based practices to coordinate care, providers can treat mental illnesses and addictions, as well as chronic medical conditions.

These savings can be reallocated to expand services to those with behavioral health disorders, allowing for resizing of funding pools for acute care, specialty care, primary care and behavioral health care. Lower use acute care and specialty utilization can then permanently fund expanded integration of primary care and behavioral health services, breaking the cycle that has been driving health care costs up unnecessarily.