Untreated mental illness costs the United States up to $300 billion every year.[1] It is the leading cause of disability and the third most expensive medical condition in terms of total health spending, behind cancer and traumatic injury.

Given that one in five Americans suffers from a mental illness in a given year[3], and that the average delay between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years[4], mental health screening should be considered just as important as regular medical exams.

Many physicians integrate screening to diagnose mental health conditions as part of primary care. It gives a PCP a picture of the patient’s emotional state and helps determine if symptoms they are experiencing are an indication of a mental health condition or an underlying physical health condition. Magellan Healthcare supports primary care screening and treatment with our Behavioral Health Toolkit at

Online screening and digital screening are two of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if a patient is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. A PCP may ask a patient to complete a questionnaire online before a visit, or a PCP may ask a patient to answer a few questions on a tablet or form while you they are at the office.

Based on the results, the PCP can recommend treatment options, such as digital or in-person therapy, a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist, or a referral to the patient’s health plan’s case management team.

Early identification and intervention lead to better outcomes and can reduce long-term disabilities and prevent years of suffering.

To learn more, visit You’ll find information about mental health conditions and links to evidence-based screening tools you can do yourself. If any screener indicates a problem, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

[1] National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.) FY 2018 Funding for mental health. Retrieved October 7, 2020 from

[2] Soni, A. (2015). Top five most cCostly conditions among adults age 18 and older, 2012: Estimates for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved September 18, 2020 from

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Learn about mental health. Retrieved September 18, 2020 from

[4] National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental health by the numbers. (2019, September). Retrieved September 22, 2020 from