Mental Health Care Costs Among Youth with Comorbid Mental Disorders

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2021 Oct;48(4):634-641. doi: 10.1007/s11414-021-09751-7. Epub 2021 Apr 6.


This exploratory study described the distribution of mental health service costs in youth with mental disorder and determined if costs differed for youth with comorbid internalizing and externalizing disorder compared to those with comorbid internalizing disorders. Data come from youth (8-17 years; n=75) receiving mental health services at a children's hospital in Canada. Billing amounts specified in the Health Insurance Act of Ontario were used to estimate costs. Overall, past-year service use costs were $7436.63. Hospitalizations represented the largest cost. Youth with comorbid internalizing and externalizing disorders had higher total (β=0.81 [0.17, 1.45]), hospital (β=0.93 [0.03, 1.84]), and professional (β=0.87 [0.04, 1.69]) costs. These preliminary findings suggest that comorbidity type is associated with the costs of past-year mental health services used by youth. Research is needed to understand the reasons for elevated costs and whether the increased services used by youth with comorbid internalizing and externalizing disorders are effective.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Ontario / epidemiology