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Untreated mental health illnesses cost Hoosiers $4 billion annually

Study: Untreated mental health costs $4 billion per year

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A study conducted by Indiana University’s Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health found that 4 billion dollars are spent annually on untreated mental health illnesses

Lead author Dr. Heather Taylor said: “Keep in mind that we estimated this in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, where we know pandemic restrictions also associated in an increase in mental illness.”

The study says there are 429,000 people living in Indiana that have an untreated or undertreated mental illness.

Taylor said: “The individual is suffering from their illness which is not treated appropriately and so what happens is downstream we lose their capability of perhaps contributing to the economy, contributing to the work force because they are unable to perhaps hold down a job.”

On average untreated mental health costs $1600 per-family per-year and $600 dollars per-individual.

Taylor said: “Some other things we have to think about are criminal justice system costs, or costs to homeless shelters because these individuals go on untreated.”

Some of the data in the Fairbanks study was used in the creation and passage of Senate Bill 1. The legislation builds out the state’s 988 crisis line and funds mental health crisis teams that work side by side with law enforcement.

Taylor said the government isn’t the only one who can help, she encourages employers to give employees more time off to take care of their mental health.

“Sometimes insurance companies do not pay for mental health services or behavioral health services at the same level they might pay for other health care services.”

Another study by Forbes Magazine found Indiana ranked 10th worst in the United States for health care, due to a lack of insurance coverage, high costs and too few providers.