A new SAMHSA report shows the importance of public funding for mental health services and substance abuse during difficult economic times, when it helps those who might otherwise be unable to afford the help they need. The National Expenditures for Mental Health Services and Substance Abuse Treatment, 1986-2009 shows that the annual growth rate for overall spending for the treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders was 6.1 percent from 2004-2007, before the recession. From 2007-2009, during the recession, that growth rate fell to 4.3 percent. This 1.8 percentage point decrease was driven primarily by broader spending changes on all health care by private insurance and in state and local spending (including the state share of Medicaid) during the recession. In the midst of this decrease, an increased federal Medicaid match helped reduce state costs, which allowed State funds to support behavioral health programs during the recession that otherwise might have faced budget cuts.
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