Text Size
Health Care

Americans Won’t Pay as Much to Prevent Mental Illness as Physical Illness

posted 01:02 PM EST, Wed April 11, 2012

Even though people say mental illness would have a greater impact on quality of life, they’re not nearly as willing to pay to prevent it as they are to prevent physical illnesses.

How much would you pay to prevent an episode of depression or schizophrenia? How about to prevent diabetes or partial blindness? Which disorders would cause the greatest impact on your quality of life?

If you’re like most people, you’re willing to spend a lot more to prevent the onset of physical illness, even though you recognize that mental illnesses like schizophrenia would be more burdensome to your quality of life.

That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at Stony Brook University School of Medicine who polled a representative sample of 710 Americans to find out how we perceive mental and physical illnesses and to learn how much we’d be willing to pay to prevent illness onset.

For the survey study, each participant ranked 3 physical diseases or physical conditions (like partial amputation or partial blindness) and 2 mental illnesses, ordering each condition or illness for perceived severity and impact on quality of life and deciding how much they’d be willing to pay to prevent its onset.

  • Paradoxically, although people ranked mental health conditions among the most burdensome they were also less willing to pay to prevent them - the subjects were willing to pay an average of 40% more to prevent physical illnesses than mental illness.
  • Although subjects ranked depression as a high burden illness, they were the least willing to pay to prevent its onset and though schizophrenia was ranked as the illness that would have the greatest negative impact on quality of life subjects were not most willing to pay to prevent its onset.

Commenting on the findings, senior study author Peter Ubel, M.D wrote, "All else equal, the general public doesn't think it is as valuable to treat mental illness as other types of illness. There is a fundamental disconnect between how bad they think it would be to experience depression and their willingness to spend money to rid themselves of the illness."

Read the full study results in the April edition of Psychiatric Services

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category
Story Highlights
  • Paying for Health Care: People are willing to pay 40% more to prevent physical illness than they are to prevent mental illness
  • Mental Illnesses Ranked Most Burdensome: Although Americans won't pay as much to prevent mental illness they rank mental disorders as more burdensome than physical disorders
Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Information
Use Gut Bacteria to Fight Anxiety and Depression
Gut Bacteria Protect Your Mental Health. Learn How to Protect Your Microbiome © NIAID
Imbalanced gut bacteria may increase your risk of anxiety, depression, obesity and a host of other diseases. Learn how digestive bacteria can cause anxiety and find out how dietary changes can help you instill or protect an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria. Read Article
Co-Occurring Disorders May 26, 2016
Healing the Body, Mind and Spirit after Addiction
Tips for Healing the Body, Mind and Spirit after Addiction © Laris.Sa*
Addiction is a disease that damages the body, mind and spirit. Here's a how-to guide to healing your physical, mental and spiritual health once in recovery. Read Article
Addiction Recovery September 18, 2013 (3)
Co-Occurring Disorders – A Treatment Matching Guide
The 4 Quadrant Model – a Co-Occurring Treatment Framework © SAMHSA
The 4 quadrant model provides a framework to help you understand what types of co-occurring disorder treatment you need most. Read Article
Co-Occurring Disorders October 31, 2013
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.