The use of psychotropic drugs has increased, because primary-care doctors have become more familiar with these types of drugs and lower-cost drugs have become more available, said Sherry Glied, chair of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and colleague Richard Frank.
The researchers also found that access to mental health care has improved for many Americans, but challenges persist for many groups of people. Between 1996 and 2006, treatment declined for elderly people with mental limitations that make it difficult for them to do daily living tasks such as dressing, eating and bathing without assistance.
Glied and Frank also found that more people with serious mental illnesses are being imprisoned or incarcerated. About 7 percent of people with persistent mental illnesses are put in jail or prison every year.
Another study found that many members of the military and veterans get inadequate treatment or no care at all for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. The Rand Corp. researchers said more needs to be done to better prepare community health providers to help veterans with mental health problems when they return home.
In addition, the Department of Defense needs to reduce institutional and cultural barriers to seeking mental health care, especially for active-duty military personnel.
A study by Robert Drake, a psychiatry professor at Dartmouth Medical School, and colleagues concluded that a national program to help mentally ill people on Social Security disability programs find jobs could save the federal government $368 million a year.
The researchers noted that about 27 percent of people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are mentally ill, and that up to 70 percent of people with mental illnesses want to work.
"Giving people with mental disabilities
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