Treatment of mental illness lowers arrest rates, saves money

June 10, 2013

Research from North Carolina State University, the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and the University of South Florida shows that outpatient treatment of mental illness significantly reduces arrest rates for people with mental health problems and saves taxpayers money.

"This study shows that providing is not only in the best interest of people with mental illness, but in the best interests of society," says Dr. Sarah Desmarais, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

The researchers wanted to determine the extent to which treating mental illness can keep people with out of trouble with the law. It is well established that people with mental health problems, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, make up a disproportionate percentage of defendants, and others who come into contact with the .

The researchers identified 4,056 people who had been hospitalized for mental illness in 2004 or 2005 and then tracked them from 2005 to 2012. The researchers were able to determine which individuals were receiving government-subsidized medication and which were receiving government-subsidized outpatient services, such as therapy. The researchers were also able to determine who was arrested during the seven-year study period.

"Our research shows that people receiving medication were significantly less likely to be arrested," Desmarais says. "Outpatient services also resulted in a decreased likelihood of arrest."

The researchers also compared criminal justice costs with costs. Individuals who were arrested received less treatment and each cost the government approximately $95,000 during the study period. Individuals who were not arrested received more treatment and each cost the government approximately $68,000 during the study period.

"It costs about $10 less per day to provide treatment and prevent crime. That's a good investment," Desmarais says.

Explore further: Gaps in mental health infrastructure for youth identified in many US communities

More information: The paper, "Effects of Outpatient Treatment on Risk of Arrest of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and Associated Costs," was published online May 15 in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Related Stories

Gaps in mental health infrastructure for youth identified in many US communities

February 12, 2013
Mental health facilities that provide outpatient specialty services for youth are a critical element of the mental health care infrastructure, especially for youth who are uninsured or publically insured.

Obama calls for national debate on mental health

June 3, 2013
(HealthDay)— The United States must bring the issue of mental illness "out of the shadows" with a more vigorous national discussion, President Barack Obama said Monday in opening a one-day White House conference on mental ...

CAMH study shows mental illness associated with heavy cannabis use

April 2, 2013
People with mental illnesses are more than seven times more likely to use cannabis weekly compared to people without a mental illness, according to researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) who studied ...

People with mental illness make up large share of US smokers

March 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Adults with a mental illness or a substance-abuse disorder represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked in the country, according to a new study.

UK Government plans for mentally ill prisoners are unrealistic, research suggests

June 7, 2011
Government plans to divert more mentally ill people out of the criminal justice system and into mental health services are unlikely to be achieved, according to new research from Queen Mary, University of London.

Recommended for you

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Ketamine for depression encouraging, but questions remain around long-term use

July 27, 2017
A world-first systematic review into the safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression, published in the prestigious Lancet Psychiatry, shows the risks of long-term ketamine treatment remain unclear.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress

July 27, 2017
Immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children and who meet the requirements of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers, are at risk for mental health ...

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

Research aims to shape more precise treatments for depression in women

July 27, 2017
Among women in the United States, depression is at epidemic levels: Approximately 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year, and more than 12 percent of women can expect to experience depression ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.