Mental Health Services: Public Spending and Usage

Words: 858
Topic: Health & Medicine


The article is written by four scholars on the topic of the use of mental health services. The goal of the research was to find out whether a link exists between the public spending on mental health services and the state-level perceptions of these services, on the one side, and the use of such services by state residents, on the other side. The researchers have excluded the own perceptions of an individual from the scope of the study. Having used a sufficient research sample, the scholars prove their point: the use of mental health services by an individual depends on state-level perceptions and public spending.

Research Sample and Data Sources

To conduct the research, the authors have used the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System as the primary source of data. The data set presents the results of a survey held among the residents of all 50 states, PR, and DC, male and female, of 18 years old and older. However, the residents of only 35 states, PR, and DC have answered the questions related to mental illness. Therefore, the research sample consists of the representatives of 35 states, PR, and DC; 216,514 participants overall (Richardson, Morgenstern, Crider, & Gonzalez, 2013, p. 674). The research sample is wide enough and is consistent with the research task. However, the authors admit that the participants were mostly white, which may have affected the accuracy of the research results (Richardson et al., 2013, p. 676). In addition to the mentioned the source, the researchers have also used the data of the Revenues and Expenditure Study provided by the National Association of State Mental Health. This source was used to receive information regarding the public expenditures on mental health services. The authors have examined the information on the participating federal subjects. However, only 21 of them had clear measurements of public spending, which affects the accuracy of the research and the relevance of the sample.

Research Design

To fulfill the purpose of the research, the authors have developed the following design. They adopted a current application for mental health services by a participant as the outcome variable. Next, the authors established a set of questions with uniform answers to measure the following issues: the use of mental health services by a participant, the attitude of a participant to such services, a participant’s perception of a stigma associated with mentally ill people, and a participant’s perception of their own mental health state. The authors have also sorted the participants out by sex, age, level of education, health insurance situation, the presence or absence of emotional support from the social environment, and race. Then, the researchers organized the state-level perceptions and public spending by three variables: the percentage of state residents believing in the usefulness of mental health treatment, the percentage of those confirming the existence of the stigma, and the public spending per capita for the year 2007. Finally, the researchers have performed statistical analysis with the use of statistical platform SAS/ STAT 9.2, which was a great help in operating the data and managing the analysis. They also used logistic regression to operate the individual-level information and multilevel modeling to estimate contextual effects (Richardson et al., 2013, p. 675).

Research Results

Having gathered data from the research sample and analyzed these data with the use of statistical tools, the authors concluded that the majority, though not an overwhelming one, of the participants agreed that mental treatment is a way for mentally ill individuals to receive a chance for a normal life. More than a third of participants believed in the existence of a strong prejudice against the mentally ill in the society. Having allocated the individual responses to the public spending on mental health services of each participant’s state of origin, the researchers have noticed a tendency. The more the state spends, the more its residents are sure in the necessity and usefulness of mental health services, and the more they seem likely to use such services in case of need. Moreover, the researchers have concluded that in the states with high public expenditures the numbers of mentally distressed residents are lower than in other states. The authors also claim that the results of their research are in agreement with the results of other studies that examined the correlation between the views of an individual and their use of mental health services. The researchers conclude that the changes in public spending on mental health services can affect the general opinion of the society of a state on these services, which, in its turn, impacts an individual opinion and can lead to the increase or decrease in the number of individuals using mental health services in a particular state (Richardson et al., 2013, p. 676-679).


The study has revealed a significant pattern that exists in the American society. It proves that the increase of public spending on community mental health services would lead to a more positive attitude to mental health treatment and the mentally ill in the society. To my opinion, more research is needed on this topic in order to influence state politics regarding public spending on medical services.


Richardson, J., Morgenstern, H., Crider, R., & Gonzalez, O. (2013). The influence of state mental health perceptions and spending on an individual’s use of mental health services. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(4), 673-683.