Millions of Americans have one or more forms of mental illness. These conditions have wide-ranging health, economic, and social consequences. For example, mental illness is a major factor in homelessness and incarceration. And serious mental illness—defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes significant functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities—costs the country about $200 billion in lost earnings annually.
Researchers from the State Health Care Spending Project—a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation—sought to better understand the country’s mental health challenges and, in particular, the states’ role in addressing them.