Mental health services have been growing in the US over the last decade, with the majority of those services being funded through Medicare.
However, these services are currently being targeted by a government programme known as the Mental Health First-Line Treatment (MHTF), which will increase spending by nearly a third over the next five years.
In a new study published in the Journal of Mental Health, researchers at the University of Chicago compared the funding to mental health in the UK.
They found that mental health funding is being targeted as much by MHTF as by the NHS, and that the UK is faring far worse than the US in terms of its mental health.
The authors found that only a quarter of mental health funds allocated to the UK are being used for mental health care, while the US spends twice as much.
A total of $6.9 billion of MHTFs money was spent on mental health by the US and UK in the 2017/18 financial year, while in the United States $12.3 billion was spent.
A further $1.3bn was spent in 2017/19, and another $3.1 billion in 2018/19.
The researchers say that the current US MHTFP “provides no incentive for US-based mental health providers to undertake mental health treatment, even in the absence of evidence that such treatments improve mental health outcomes”.
The study also found that the US was faring worse than other OECD countries, which were ranked at the bottom of the list for mental wellness services in terms: quality of care, outcomes, and effectiveness.
The study found that a substantial majority of mental healthcare funding allocated in the USA was directed towards non-medical conditions, such as depression and anxiety, which is likely to have an impact on mental well-being.
It is hoped that the study will spur policymakers to review the US MHSF programme and improve mental wellness in the country.
Mental health has been a focus of concern for a number of years, with a number from the 2016 report Mental Health and the American Workforce by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that nearly half of US workers had experienced mental health issues at some point in their work lives.
However the current MHT FP is likely not to address the needs of all workers, and the researchers suggest that the funds should be directed towards services which “serve individuals with mental illness”.