10.0 What They Say:

Mental health parity will reduce illness, absenteeism at work and crime, and provide increased productivity; “untreated mental illness,” is “estimated” to cost $300 billion in productivity losses, health care costs and “increased use of the criminal justice system and social welfare benefits.”71

10.1 What They Don’t Say:

  • Massive increases in mental health funding and, therefore, increased psychiatric services and treatment, has never reduced crime or increased productivity. On the contrary, crime and drug abuse have escalated, without anyone questioning the long-term lack of results from psychiatric treatments. Additionally, mental health parity will cost the health system billions of dollars more in fraud.

  • Robert J. Franciosi, Research Fellow of The Goldwater Institute, says that advocates claiming that parity will lead to increased productivity, reduced crime, etc., do not have the means of measuring this. “Measurement difficulties make it difficult to determine the benefits of providing mental health care, and calculations are fraught with uncertainty…there is no hard evidence concerning how parity legislation has affected productivity.” Interviews with two employers in states where parity legislation has been introduced showed that parity “had no effect on absenteeism.”72

  • Michael Tanner, Director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, says that the $300 million cost is “an unprovable argument that’s always made. We’re told that we’ll save money, but costs always rise. We’re saving money right now into the poorhouse.”73

  • The U.S. mental health budget went from $33.1 billion in 1994 to an estimated $80 billion in 1999. Add to this the more than six billion dollars having been spent by the National Institute of Mental Health alone on mental health research. Now review the systematic failure of psychiatric treatments in preventing crime, etc. Teen suicides have tripled since 1960; today, suicide is the second leading cause of death (after accidents) for 15- to 24-year-olds; between 1965 and 1992, the arrest rates for violent crime by children under the age of 18 rose by 262%. In 1996, more than 30% of those jailed for violent offenses were under 24 years of age. Today, there are 6 million children prescribed addictive amphetamine-like drugs (some more potent than cocaine) for alleged behavioral and learning problems.

  • A group of seasoned business experts in the United States evaluated a selection of graphs representing 30 years of funding to an “anonymous organization” (in reality, the mental health industry) and trends in crime, drug abuse and suicide—all social problems that psychiatrists and psychologists have been funded to treat and correct. The vice president and investment banker with a New York Stock Exchange member firm, said, “This is a total failure....These statistics suggest a direct failure.” A money and fund manager of 22 years responded, “These results are horrible and show most likely poor management, poor products and absolutely no success whatsoever,” and an investment advisor questioned, “...why does the government keep investing in this?”

    Then there is the increase in fraud that we can expect with increased mental health coverage (funding of services).

  • Each year in America, the mental health industry defrauds public and private insurance payers an estimated $20 billion. Already, insurance companies have issued warnings to be on guard for fake claims filed in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks. “Companies will be vigilant in spotting and prosecuting insurance fraud,” declared John Edgar, the National Association of Independent Insurers’ director of claims services.74

  • This year, the Healthcare Financing Administration (HCFA) paid $185 million in improper Medicare payments in 1998 for outpatient mental health services after the Office of the Inspector General established that one-third of outpatient mental health services were unnecessary.75

    11.0 Summary:

    Mental health parity cannot effectively exist because there is no parity in the diagnosis of mental health problems compared to real physical conditions that can be accurately tested for and diagnosed. Psychiatrists cannot distinguish between a mental disorder and no mental disorder. While some patient advocacy groups, heavily funded by pharmaceutical interests, and the mental health lobby, purport that mental illness is like a physical disease such as diabetes, cancer or epilepsy, and, therefore mental health parity is needed, evidence simply doesn’t substantiate this.

    As Dr. Elliot Valenstein points out, “Typically, patient advocacy material has a pro-drug bias, encouraging people to seek medication often by exaggerating the effectiveness of the drugs and the scientific foundation on which they rest.”76 “Contrary to what is claimed, no biochemical, anatomical, or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients," he says.77

    In short, mandated mental health parity is an effort by the mental health industry to have governments force insurers, employers, consumers and taxpayers for a service they will not buy of their own free will. It drives up the cost of insurance and has skyrocketed the number of uninsured.

    In our current economic times, faced with rising defense costs and government bailouts for failing companies hit by the tragic events of September 11, fiscally, mental health parity is also a very bad move.

    That individuals, employers and the free market in general have rejected these services has proven not only to be sound financial judgment, it appears to be sound mental health as well.


    1. Where mental health parity laws exist, they should be repealed.

    2. Pending laws, such as The Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act (S.543), should not be passed.

    3. Psychiatry and psychology should be held accountable for the funds already given them and irrefutably and scientifically prove the physical existence of mental disorders they claim should be treated and covered by insurance in the same way as physical diseases are.

    4. Health insurance coverage for mental health problems should only be provided on the proviso that full, searching physical examinations are first undertaken to determine that no underlying and, thereby, untreated physical condition is causing the person’s mental health condition. Such examinations would be covered under existing health coverage.

    5. Mental health insurance coverage should not be based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) as it is not based on science or medical fact, but psychiatric opinion only.


    While CCHR does not provide medical or legal advice, it works closely with medical doctors and supports medical, but not psychiatric, practices. It has long been the policy of CCHR that anyone with a physical condition requiring medical treatment should see a competent, non-psychiatric physician.

    Next: References

  • © 2001-2004 Citizens Commission on Human Rights® International
    All Rights Reserved.