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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Cost-Effectiveness of Mental Health Services for Persons with a Dual Diagnosis: A Literature Review and the CCMHCP
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People suffering from comorbid mental illness and substance abuse disorders (the dually diagnosed) are thought to constitute large portions of clients treated as outpatients by public-sector community-based mental health providers. These providers dispense units of ambulatory mental health services and treatments incrementally to maintain clients in the community and out of psychiatric hospitals. Community maintenance is one step, albeit critical, toward quitting drugs and eventual abstinence. Thus, there is a need for information that compares the effectiveness and cost of such services on dually diagnosed clients to identify appropriate low-cost high-yield treatment and service options and packages. This article provides a review of the literature on the effectiveness of ambulatory mental health services and recent emergent reports of cost-effectiveness of programs for the dually diagnosed, paying special attention to the gray areas and gaps. This article also describes a new project; an inexpensive add-on to an existing community mental health center. The project will be examining over 4 years of data to compare influence and cost of different ambulatory mental health services and treatments delivered to a matched pair group of clients with dual disorders and those with only mental illness. The intention of this project is not only to address gray areas and gaps in the literature, but also to inform a more rational deployment of mental health services. (Author)