Mental Health and the Economy

The better the mental health, the more robust the economy. That’s the word out of a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that suggests, for every $1 spent treating anxiety and depression there is a $4 return in better health and the ability to work.


The study is the first to argue that there are global economic benefits in investing in treatments for depression and anxiety.
“We know that treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and well-being; this new study confirms that it makes sound economic sense, too,” said Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO in a statement.
“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,” Chan said.
According to a report in Newsweek Magazine, “In addition to leading to lost productivity and missed work days, depression and anxiety can also contribute to unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet and lack of exercise,” according to the study. “These, in turn, are contributing factors to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, and a range of other costly and potentially conditions,” the study says. “Mental disorders also increase the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, which can lead to risky sexual behaviors that increase the risk of HIV infections and other injuries. Finally, and most tragically, they are a significant factor in suicides.”
Another story, in “The Guardian,” says that “without scaled-up treatment, a staggering 12 billion working days – or 50 million years of work – will be lost to depression and anxiety disorders each year between now and 2030.”
Here at home – a recent study by Mental Health America claimed that Arizona ranks 50th out of 51 states and the District of Columbia in access to mental healthcare. Only Oregon ranks lower. The Phoenix New Times wrote:

One problem is that not enough primary-care physicians are screening for mental illness and referring patients to specialists until the disease has progressed much too far. Often, people with low-level mental-health or substance-abuse issues go without a diagnosis for nearly a decade. The disease progressively worsens and, by the time it’s caught,  “it has gotten so bad it is equivalent to cancer that has metastasized,” he (Michael Shafer, president of Mental Health America’s Arizona chapter) said.

The numbers certainly catch your attention……so now what? How do we actively address the mental health issue here in Arizona and across the country? Share your thoughts so that, together, we can find new ways to meet these difficult challenges…..which will in turn help us take another step in our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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