The Canadian Institute for Health Information has reported that one in three cases of mentally ill patients are readmitted within a year. The following observations were made after studying the statistics relating to hospitalization and patient readmission rates during the year 2003-2004.
Among those mentally ill patients readmitted, 45 percent of patients were those with a personality disorder and 41 per cent were those with schizophrenia. One in five had a substance-related disorder such as alcoholism. Generally, these patients were younger and more likely to be male.
Patients with mental illness constituted about six percent of all hospitalizations. It was also found that the average length of their hospital stays were more than double the length of others.
The vast majority - about 86%- of patients hospitalized due to mental illness in 2003-2004 were treated in general hospitals, excepting those with schizophrenia, who required to be admitted in psychiatric hospitals
Depression and bipolar disorder formed the most common causes for mental health hospitalizations.
The risk of readmission increased with age. The longer the initial hospital stay, the greater were the chances of readmission within one year.
Mental illness can be very trying for patients and their families. Hospitalization is necessary at times, but hospital stays themselves may create problems, the report observes.
'We found that mental illness and hospitalization for mental illness in particular is happening at a productive time in someone's life, when they're still working or when they're raising a family,' said the study author Ian Joiner, Manager of Rehabilitation and Mental health at CIHI.
'So the impact of being hospitalized for their mental illness or being readmitted to a hospital would have some effect on their working life and their family life.'
'Readmission for a mental illness is often linked to a disruption in outpatient treatment and rehabilitation and may signal instability or a recurrence of severe symptoms of a disease,' said Nawaf Madi, CIHI program lead for mental health and addictions.
'The concern for health planners is that treating a patient in hospital costs more than treatment at the outpatient or community level', Madi said.