Youth Mental Health, Substance Use Problems Cost U.S. Billions

Lost productivity and treatment for mental illness, substance abuse and behavioral problems in American youth add up to $247 billion annually, according to a panel assembled by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Reuters reported Feb. 13.

The panel, which gives recommendations to U.S. policymakers, examined the financial burden from mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and behavioral problems for Americans up to age 24. The figure includes treatment and lost productivity costs, but does not include costs associated with criminal justice, education, workplace disruption, or social welfare spending.

The panel urged the new White House administration to focus on prevention goals. “We really can prevent a lot of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders,” said Kenneth Warner, who headed the panel and is dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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