Survey Stresses the Need for Mental-Health Coverage in Ohio

July 28, 2006 ( - A recent survey highlighted the urgency for legislation in Ohio to increase insurance benefits for those with mental illnesses and exposed the dire affect of depression on jobs, finances and personal relationships for people with limited access to treatment.

Ohioans with the least insurance coverage paid $5,165 annually for depression treatment, or four times more than those with better access to care, according to the survey. The survey also found that people with limited access were less likely to report satisfying relationships with spouses and family, and were significantly more likely to quit their jobs and have delinquent bills compared to those with sufficient access to care.  

On a broader scale, among the 662 respondents who participated in a nationwide sample, those with limited access to treatment were more than four times as likely to quit their job (27% versus 6%) and twice as likely to be fired from their job (20% versus 10%) as a result of depression.

The survey revealed a surprising disparity between the number of Ohioans with symptoms of anxiety disorder and the number of Ohioans diagnosed. Seventy-five percent of Ohio respondents indicated symptoms of anxiety disorder, but only 25% of those respondents had been diagnosed and 16% received the most effective treatment, a combination of medication and psychotherapy.     

“The findings of this survey are both troubling and not surprising,” said Robert Ronis, interim chairman and director of public and community psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland, according to the Harlan Spector, an Ohio newspaper. “This is a huge public health issue for our country and the world.”     

Ohio Senator Robert Spada, who sponsored the bill, which would increase insurance coverage for mental illnesses to make it more equivalent to coverage for physical ailments, according to the Harlan Spector. A similar piece of legislation, signed into law in August 2005, can be found  here .

“Thirty-seven states have some sort of equivalent to parity coverage,” said Spada to the Harlan Spector. “I hope Ohio can be among those ranks in the not-too-distant future.”    

The survey is part of a nationwide effort to examine access to mental health services for those living with depression inCalifornia, Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas. The survey, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and financed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, was conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,880 people in the five sample states. It also focused on 662 people from a national sample, for a total of 3,542 respondents, aged 18 and older, between March 28, 2006 and April 17, 2006.