Mental Healthcare Makes Economic Sense

Mental Healthcare Makes Economic SenseMental Healthcare Makes Economic Sense

Every dollar spent on better treatment of anxiety and depression produces a return of $4 in better health and ability to work - a big boost for countries’ development and economic growth, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

These disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion a year, according to a study led by the WHO which estimates for the first time both the health and the economic benefits of spending more on treating the most common forms of mental illness, Reuters reported.

Common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression are increasing worldwide, and the number of people suffering from them rose to 615 million in 2013 from 416 million in 1990, the UN agency said in the study.

Last year, world leaders included mental health in an ambitious plan to end poverty and inequality by 2030, enshrined in 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“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,” said Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO.

The study is based on data from 36 low, middle and high-income countries.

Governments spend on average 3% of their health budget on mental health, ranging from less than 1% in low-income countries to 5% in high-income countries, according to the WHO survey Mental Health Atlas 2014.

“Despite hundreds of millions of people around the world living with mental disorders, mental health has remained in the shadows,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

“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,” he added.

The World Bank/WHO meeting on Wednesday, during the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings also taking place in Washington, brings together ministers of health and finance, donors and multilateral organizations, and aims to move mental health to the mainstream of the global development agenda from the margins.