Press Releases

NAMI Presents 10-Year Forecast of Mental Health Care Trends

Feb 23 2000

Arlington, VA - At a briefing today hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Laurie Flynn, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) outlined the most important factors for change in health care for the next decade and discussed key trends in the area of mental health care.

Flynn's remarks accompanied release of a landmark study, Health & Healthcare 2000: The Forecast, The Challenge, prepared by the Institute for the Future. Other presenters included Charles N. (Chip) Kahn III; president of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA); Gail Warden, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System; and Molly Mettler, senior vice-president of Healthwise, Inc.

"No area of health care will see more change in the next decade than mental health," Flynn noted. The "three biggest drivers of change" in health care are science and research; the information revolution; and consumerism. Key trends in mental health care include:

  • With sophisticated electronic imaging techniques that allow researchers to see into the living brain, scientists can discern areas of the brain that malfunction during specific illnesses and soon may enable treatments to be targeted more effectively.
  • In the near term, we will be able to treat severe depression more effectively and perhaps reduce the rising suicide rate.
  • Better targeted treatment and a new generation of antipsychotic drugs offer major hope for better outcomes for people with schizophrenia, which is the most frequent diagnosis in the nation's homeless population.
  • The new science will allow policymakers to prioritize between serious brain disorders and more ordinary mental health problems, such as stress. Health insurance parity laws in many states already make this distinction.
  • Policymakers will demand greater accountability for hundreds of millions of dollars that now support a fragmented, inadequate and failed public mental health care system. A "new image of mental health" will emerge, focusing on early recognition, effective treatment, rehabilitation and recovery for most patients.
  • The Internet is helping to overcome the stigma of mental illness. It preserves anonymity while providing information about treatment options, current research, screening tests, on-line question and answer sessions with practitioners, and virtual support groups.
  • New medications are being advertised directly to millions of potential consumers, further changing the balance of power in the physician-patient relationship. Consumer demand will remain a force in a highly competitive market. More and more aggressive advertising of new products can be expected.