Government and Regulations

The Statistics Behind Behavioral Health Care

Published data from SAMHSA show the effect substance abuse and mental illness have on receiving proper health care.


The Behavioral Health Equity Barometer, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a series of data snapshots of the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on American communities. Differences in prevalence of disorders, perceptions of risk, and access to treatment contribute to the variations in burden of care, the authors say, and income, location, and insurance status are “key determinants of disparities” across populations. For example, in 2013, adults with serious mental illness were less likely to receive mental health treatment if they did not have health insurance. And only 6% of Americans aged ≥ 12 years with alcohol dependence or abuse received treatment for the alcohol use within the prior year, whereas 13% of those using illicit drugs received treatment.

Related: Self-Screen for Substance Use

Examining the data is critical, the authors emphasize, to providing the most appropriate and highest quality behavioral health care. Their report provides a unique overview of population-based variations in behavioral health at a point in time. Gathering the data in this way, they say, will help create a mechanism for systematically tracking changes and trends.

Related: Effective Mental Health Interventions

The report is available for download at

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