Mental Health Disorder Diagnoses

Throughout Virginia and the nation, mental health remains a high priority due to its impact on the country and its citizens. This is manifested in many ways – from health care impacts to disturbing societal events and their aftermath. Many of the shocking, high-profile violent episodes that have left communities shaken are subsequently attributed to mental health disorders experienced by the perpetrators. That mental health policy reform and funding is a perennial topic at the Virginia General Assembly that illustrates the prominence of the issue. Against that backdrop, this edition of Research Corner takes a closer look at patients discharged from a Virginia hospital in 2015 with a primary diagnosis-related group (DRG) associated with alcohol, drug abuse, or a mental health issue. This analysis does not include any discharges where mental health, alcohol, or drug abuse is a secondary diagnosis. The data show that out of the 856,733 discharges in 2015, 66,785 discharges (or 7.8 percent of the discharges) were mental health related (see chart below). Among the 11 DRGs that were evaluated, psychosis accounted for 45,576 (or 68 percent) of mental health discharges. According to the data, mental health hospitalizations occur equally among men and women. One discovery illuminated by the data is that a substantial segment of the population being hospitalized for mental health disorders is young adults. The majority of patients (75 percent) are people ranging in age from 20-64 years (see charts below for allocation by gender and age). Based on the data, there is not necessarily a correlation between mental health disorders and patients’ ability to pay for treatment. The greatest share of Virginians discharged with a mental health primary DRG are those with commercial insurance who presumably are employed. Mental health is not a disease of poor men, despite common characterizations to the contrary. The data indicate that uninsured people choose not to go to the hospital for specific mental health issues, instead seeking treatment for a primary problem affecting them. Since mental health has a broad impact across the Commonwealth, the next Research Corner will focus on the psychoses DRG and what type of patients fall into that category. (7/29)

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