If you tend to put more importance on treating your diabetes than your depression, you're in good company with many other Americans.
A new study from the American Psychiatric Association has suggested that people are more willing to put their money toward avoiding medical illnesses than mental illnesses.
“People are less willing to pay to avoid mental illness than medical illness, even though they recognize that severe mental illnesses can dramatically lower quality of life,” according to a news release from the American Psychiatric Association.
There were 710 participants in the study. The participants answered questions in reference to the mental illnesses depression and schizophrenia, compared to the medical illnesses diabetes, below-the-knee amputation, and partial blindness.
The question posed to participants was, “Suppose a pill existed that would allow you to permanently and completely avoid ever having [health condition] ... Please estimate the maximum dollar amount you would be willing and able to pay monthly for this treatment?” They also had to rate the burdensomeness of the conditions.
“The researchers found that even though respondents rated the two mental illnesses as relatively more burdensome than the other [medical] conditions, the amount they were willing to pay to avoid them was 40 percent lower,” according to the news release.
Although the authors recognize the limitations of the study, they think the results show a need to address certain beliefs about mental illnesses and the importance of treatment.
“While the study had a number of limitations, it did demonstrate that people were willing to pay significantly less to avoid mental illnesses than they were to avoid other medical illnesses, and that this was not the result of minimizing the burden and impact of mental illness,” according to the news release.
Experts and individuals who have experience with mental illness share their insight into the issue presented by the study.