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SUB CATEGORIES General  |  HIV |  Medical Schemes | 

Mental health costs soaring

17 May 2004 Angelo Coppola

Figures released by Medscheme, show that the cost of treating mental illness is increasing significantly.

Dr Laubi Walters, of Medscheme’s Integrated Care division said, “the costs for anti-depressants has trebled since 1997. 

This is not only attributable to the price of imported medicines with a weakening Rand, but the number of prescriptions per 1000 lives has risen from 8 in 1997 to 18 this year.

“There are several reasons for the increase in treatment,” says Dr Walters.  “Firstly, the Medical Schemes Act has forced some inclusions, and medical aid schemes are increasing benefits for mental health as it becomes less stigmatized. 

“As a result, we are seeing less “masking” of diagnoses coming from healthcare providers, and are now getting a more accurate picture.”

“The largest areas of increase are for anti-depressants (e.g. Prozac) and anxiolytics (tranquilizers).  In addition, even the number of psychiatric hospitalization cases has increased from .27 to .38 admissions per 1000 lives in the last 23 months alone” he said.

“Our modern lifestyles contain many stressors, which exacerbate our mental health problems,” says Dr Walters. 

“At the same time, it is important for people to play their part in living healthier lifestyles by getting enough exercise and sleep, while eating and drinking the right things.”

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