Increase in Mental Health Disease Best Treated by In-Person Contact

In-person contact is one of the best ways to reduce existing stigma toward patients with mental illness in the field of pharmacy, according to research presented at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacies’ Virtual Pharmacy Education 2020 conference.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 20% of adolescents, either currently or at some point in their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.

In 2019, public payers accounted for the majority (62.7%) of mental health spending at $149.5 billion, while private payers accounted for the remaining $88.9 billion (37.3%). In 2009, public payers accounted for the majority (60%) at $88 billion, while private payers accounted for the remaining $59 billion (40%). 

The question is whether the pandemic will cause a big jump in behavioral health spending in 2021—for both mental health and addiction treatment. What we do know is that demand will likely increase.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that nearly half (45%) of all U.S. adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health, while 19% say it has had a “major impact.” Prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs spiked 34% between February 16 and March 15, and also increased for antidepressants (18.6%) and anti-insomnia drugs (14.8%), according to a report from Express Scripts.

With 1 in every 6 adults filling at least 1 prescription for psychiatric medication, pharmacists are regularly engaging with these patients as a daily part of their practice. In this way, pharmacists have a significant role in these individuals’ experience of their health care team and have the ability to be a critical source of care for them.


Takeaway: Behavioral health prescription spending growing in parallel with increase in patients