A statistical brief released earlier this year by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds that Arkansas has high rates of inpatient stays for certain mental health disorders and identifies the regions of the states that are most impacted.
The brief identifies regional “hot spots” with concentrated rates of inpatient stays for the five leading mental health diagnoses: depressive disorders, schizophrenia spectrum, bipolar disorders, suicidal attempts/intentional self-harm, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Hot spots are defined as regions with rates in the highest quintile, meaning the rates are above the 80th percentile in the nation — i.e., higher than the rates in at least 80% of other regions across the United States.
AHRQ used Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project data from the 2016─2018 National Inpatient Sample and State Inpatient Databases to examine national, state, and sub-state regional rates of individuals who experience inpatient stays related to mental health disorders.
By region, the agency found:
- The northeast region of Arkansas had hot spots for inpatients stays for all of the five leading mental health diagnoses.
- The southeast region of Arkansas had a hot spot for inpatient stays for schizophrenia. High rates in this region were part of a pattern of high inpatient rates for patients with schizophrenia that spanned all of eastern Arkansas and extended into the neighboring Delta states of Mississippi and Louisiana.
- The central region of Arkansas had hot spots for inpatient stays for schizophrenia, suicidal attempts/intentional self-harm, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
- The northwest region had a hot spot for inpatient stays for suicidal attempts/intentional self-harm.
- The southwest region had a hot spot for inpatient stays for trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
Arkansas’s statewide inpatient stay rates were higher than the national average for all of the five leading mental health diagnoses except bipolar disorder. The state ranked above the 50th percentile in all five diagnoses and within the 80th percentile for three diagnoses: schizophrenia, suicidal attempts/intentional self-harm, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Additionally, Arkansas ranked third in the nation for rates of inpatient stays for suicidal attempts/intentional self-harm at 63.1 stays per 100,000 population.
High rates of inpatient stays for mental health disorders indicate a need for increased resource availability and access to treatment for these disorders. It is important to note that AHRQ only examined data collected from 2016─2018; the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mental health crises across the nation. With mental health diagnoses likely to continue increasing in the near future, health officials should seek to better understand why specific regions are more impacted than others and invest in enhanced resources for those areas.