Impact: Behavioral Health Series

Issue #4; March 2, 2005

Fact, Not Fiction 

We must actively address mental health and substance use issues - behavioral health care - at school, at home, in our communities, in the criminal justice system, in the healthcare system and in the workplace.

Choose to ignore these conditions‚Ķpay a high price. Behavioral health must be part of every agenda.   

  • Tobacco causes 400,000 deaths each year, killing more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, suicides, and fires combined.  
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in North America. 
  • Of 2 million US deaths each year, one in four is attributable to alcohol, illicit drug, or tobacco use.  
  • Every 17 minutes a person dies by means of suicide. 
  • The cost of dealing with illicit drugs alone approaches $67 billion annually.  
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders, the most serious of which affect 5 to 10 million adults and 3 to 5 million children in the U.S. 
  • The toll of substance abuse can be measured in lost lives and dollars spent dealing with its effects. Each year there are more deaths and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable cause.  
  • The cost of untreated mental illness in the U.S. is more than $100 billion each year. 
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome FAS (a condition characterized by abnormal facial features and problems related to memory, behavior and physical disabilities, caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy), affects 1 in 100 live births, more than Spina Bifida, Downs Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy combined. 
  • 80% of children with FAS are not raised by their birth mothers, with 6,800 in foster care at a cost that ranges from $8,000 to over $15,000 per year. The cost of residential care for one child with FAS is approximately $50,000 but can triple for psychiatric hospitals or state-run facilities. 
  • 70 to 90% of people receiving treatment for serious mental illness have significant reduction in symptoms. 
  • Every man, woman and child in America pays nearly $1,000 a year to cover the costs of unnecessary health care, additional law enforcement, auto accidents, crime and lost productivity resulting from substance abuse.                               

Comments are welcome at Karen.Ohrenberger@po.state.ct.us

Learn the facts.  Worried about healthcare costs? Weigh those against the costs of untreated disease.


/ Impact Index 2005 /