People with mental illness struggle with health disparities

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DESPITE the implementation of major health care reforms in the United States, people with mental health conditions are still finding it difficult to get the health care services they need, a new study suggests.
The researchers found that adults with mental illnesses were about 10 times more likely to put off buying the medications they needed because of the cost of these meds. In addition, adults with mental illnesses were about three times more likely to delay seeking medical care, compared with adults without mental illness. They were also about three times more likely to have visited a doctor more than 10 times in the past year for their overall health problems, and were more likely to be uninsured, according to the study, published today (April 17) in the journal Psychiatric Services.
Together, these findings suggest that people with mental health conditions are having poorer health relative to people without mental illness, said lead study author Judith Weissman, an epidemiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. The research also shows that people with mental illness encounter more hurdles when they try to access health care, Weissman said.
Moreover, the research suggests that there is a large and growing population of people with mental illness who are trying to get the medical help they need for either a physical problem or a mental health problem, but can’t, Weissman said.
Although the people with mental health conditions in the study had more frequent doctor’s appointments than those without mental health conditions, they were also more likely to have to change the location where they received medical services during the study, often for insurance reasons, according to the findings.
Such frequent changes can disrupt treatment plans and relationships with health professionals, and prevent people from feeling better, Weissman said. Moreover, people with mental health conditions may turn to primary care physicians for help, but these doctors may not have the appropriate training to treat people with mental health conditions, she added. Despite the implementation of major health care reforms in the United States, people with mental health conditions are still finding it difficult to get the health care services they need, a new study suggests. The researchers found that adults with mental illnesses were about 10 times more likely to put off buying the medications they needed because of the cost of these meds.