Mental Health remains the poor relative of the NHS it is about time it was given the funding it needs but David Cameron’s recent pledge of £1billion is probably too little too late.
1 in 4 people experience problems each year
75% receive no help
- £105bn cost to economy
- £9.2bn spent by NHS a year
- 15-20 years shorter life expectancy for those with severe problems
It has been estimated that the economic and social costs of mental health problems in England was £105 billion in 2009-10 – taking into account costs for health and social care, loss of output and human costs. (2) Those who developed this estimate think it is likely to be an underestimate. (3)
Additional estimates put the cost of mental illness for Northern Ireland at around £3 billion, Wales £7 billion and Scotland £9 billion. (4) NHS spend on mental health services alone came to around £10 billion in 2008-09. It has been estimated that optimal treatment for mental disorders will only avert 28% of the burden of mental illness, (5) highlighting the need for prevention.
Mental illness and lack of mental wellbeing impact on communities and individuals’ lives in many ways, and economic studies assign costs to these different impacts. Most studies include costs due to mental health service usage, but not the additional costs to other health services due, for example, to chronic illness.
Costs to social services are usually included, but only some studies include costs to criminal justice and probation services. Studies may cover sickness absence due to mental illness but not the costs of presenteeism which may be greater. The costs presented therefore provide a very useful baseline but are usually regarded as underestimates for these reasons.
In the world of work, one study estimates that sickness absence due to mental ill health costs around £8 billion per year (70 million working days missed each year, or an average of 2.8 days per year per UK employee). Lost productivity (including presenteeism, where mental health issues lessen work performance) costs £15 billion, and replacing staff who leave their posts because of mental illness costs employers £2 billion. (6)
1. Friedli L, Parsonage M. Promoting mental health and preventing mental illness: the economic case for investment in Wales. All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network. 2009.
2.Centre for Mental Health. The economic and social costs of mental health problems in 2009/10. 2001.
3. Centre for Mental Health. The economic and social costs of mental health problems in 2009/10. 2001.
4. Cyhlarova E. Economic burden of mental illness cannot be tackled without research investment. Mental Health Foundation. 2010.
5. Andrews G, et al. Utilising survey data to inform public policy: comparison of the cost-effectiveness of treatment of ten mental disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry 2004; 184:526-533.
6. Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Mental health at work: developing the business case. 2007.
7.HM Government. No health without mental health. 2011
8. Naylor C et al. Long term conditions and mental health – the cost of co-morbidities. King’s Fund and Centre for Mental Health. 2012.
10. Naylor C et al. Long term conditions and mental health – the cost of co-morbidities. King’s Fund and Centre for Mental Health. February 2012.
11. WHO. Investing in mental health. 2003.
12. HM Government. No health without mental health. 2011.
14. Chida Y, Steptoe A. Positive psychological well-being and mortality: a quantitative review of prospective observational studies. Psychosom Med 70:7, 2008.
15. Friedli L, Parsonage M, Promoting mental health and preventing mental illness: the economic case for investment in Wales. All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network. 2009.