Every dollar spent on treating depression yields four times returns: WHO

Every dollar spent on treating depression yields four times returns: WHO

Mental illness, a predominant problem across the United States, is associated with a wide range of problems, including physical illness, unemployment, substance abuse, etc. Once diagnosed with a mental disease, a person may face social exclusion. It thus impacts the way the society looks at him or treats him.

A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), published online in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry in April 2016, revealed the benefits of investments in mental health treatments in terms of global economic growth.

Treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and wellbeing

In the study, titled “Scaling-up treatment of depression and anxiety: A global return on investment analysis,” it was observed that adequate investments in common mental health issues can bring about economic and health advantages across the world.

In a joint press release issued by the WHO and the World Bank Group, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said, “We know that treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and wellbeing; this new study confirms that it makes sound economic sense too. We must now find ways to make sure that access to mental health services becomes a reality for all men, women and children, wherever they live.”

To calculate the global return on investment (ROI), the researchers made use of the mental health module of the “OneHealth” tool to gauge the costs of treatment and determine health outcomes in 36 countries during 2016-2030. The authors of the study presumed a linear increase in the extent of treatment possibilities.

While therapeutic intervention was found to increase both workforce and productivity by 5 percent, valued at $399, which included $230 billion for upgraded care for depressive behavior and $169 billion for anxiety disorders, besides an additional $310 billion in terms of improved health, the total investment needed to upgrade the treatment coverage for mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorders, was estimated at merely $147 billion.

It was also found that enlarging the scope of treatment can result in 43 million extra years of healthy life over the period. Moreover, the benefits to cost ratio would be 2.3-3.0 to 1 if only economic benefits are considered and 3.3-5.7 to 1 if the value of health returns is also taken into consideration.

As per the Mental Health Atlas 2014 Survey by the WHO, the amount of investment being made in the field of mental health services is much lower than needed. The survey that focused on the investments in mental health services made by various countries revealed less than 1 percent is allocated for mental health services in low-income countries and 5 percent in high-income countries.

Prior to this, First Lady Michelle Obama had emphasized on the importance of treating mental ailments just as any other physical disorder. “At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction,” she had said at a mental health summit in 2015.

“Despite hundreds of millions of people around the world living with mental disorders, mental health has remained in the shadows. This is not just a public health issue – it’s a development issue. We need to act now because the lost productivity is something the global economy simply cannot afford,” said World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim.

Road to recovery

Having to live in a society filled with bias and prejudice due to lack of understanding about mental disease makes it difficult for the sufferers to fight the stigma associated with mental disorders.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, you may get in touch with the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about relevant mental health programs. Chat online with one of our experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about mental health facilities.

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