- 20% had emergency room visits
- 11% were hospitalized
- 23% had side effects significantly worsen—interfering with functioning and outweighing therapeutic benefits
- 22% had an increase in suicidal ideation or behavior.
- 15% had an increase in violent ideation or behavior.
- 3% became homeless for more than 48 hours.
Magdalin Fulce used to take three different prescription medications for anxiety and depression. She doesn’t take any now, not because she doesn’t need it, but because she can’t afford it. Fulce, 24, of Weir lost the Medicaid covering her prescriptions on her 19th birthday. She then signed up for AmBetter through the Affordable Care Act, which again provided coverage. But when she turned in her earnings as a self-employed hairdresser in 2019, she was unable to afford the premiums any longer. At times, she was paying as much as $100 or $200 for a month’s supply of Valium. So, she stopped taking it. Fulce got her prescriptions through her primary care physician but believes she needs a psychiatrist’s evaluation. “But I don’t have $400 for a psych workup,” Fulce said. She has struggled since, she said. “I’ll go three months doing well then maybe three months downhill.” Four months ago, she overdosed on Klonopin, landing in the mental ward at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson. Many families stop buying these types of prescription drugs because of the high cost, said Tandi Karol Weaver Hawthorne, an educator and mental health advocate in Choctaw County. When her late husband, David, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 1996, she said they paid up to $1,000 a month for his medication. If not for a combination of Medicare, a private drug plan and extended family support, they couldn’t have afforded his medication, she said. Magellan Health Service, a national leader in behavioral health care management, found that mental health drugs now account for a fourth of all pharmacy spending by private insurance and about a third of pharmacy spending by public payers such as Medicaid. And that number is expected to increase 60% over the coming decade, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services predicted. In Mississippi, approximately 77,000 Medicaid beneficiaries had behavioral health diagnoses (a number that includes children but not infants) in state fiscal year 2019, according to Matt Westerfield, communication director for Medicaid. The three primary diagnoses are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. “The vast majority of that 77,000 – if not all of them – would be on some form of mental health medication,” Westerfield said. Not having regular access to medication causes relapse Availability of medication plays a major role in maintaining mental health, according to the study by the patient advocacy group Mental Health America. “Sixty-nine percent of patients with medication access problems had adverse events compared to 40% for patients with no access problems,” according to Joyce West, director of the American Psychiatric Research Network. Of patients with access problems, the studies found: