British Economy Pays Annual Bill of Nearly 100 Billion Pounds for Mental Health Problems

In response to the recent publication of World Health Organisation research into depression in The Lancet, the UK’s Mental Health Foundation calls attention to the cost to the economy of mental health problems: some 30 billion pounds in direct costs, and nearly 100 billion pounds when other social and health factors are included.

The medical journal The Lancet is publishing a series of articles this week on global mental health, and the UK’s Mental Health Foundation has taken the opportunity to issue a press release, highlighting the massive costs to the British economy of mental health problems:

We welcome the fact that an organisation as prestigious as the World Health Organisation is calling for more attention to be paid to the devastating impact depression can have. It is also right that as economies and cultures continue to integrate that depression and mental health in general are considered as urgent global issues.

In the UK alone, the cost to the economy of mental health problems is thought to be around £30 billion annually — when other social and health factors are included this approaches around £100 billion. Which is not to forget that this massive financial burden is made up of millions of personal tragedies — those suffering from mental health problems are more likely to be in debt, suffer from a physical health problem and be victims of discrimination.

What is frustrating is that effective treatments for common mental health problems do exist. It’s shocking that even in a relatively rich country such as the UK people find it hard to get access to many of these treatments, especially talking therapies. The WHO is right to compare depression with other long-term conditions. It’s time mental health was put at the same level of priority as physical health, both here in the UK and worldwide.

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