The Cost of Mental Illness
OECD Better Life Index – February 8, 2013
Summary: Julia Laplane of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently wrote about the importance of mental health and the cost of mental illness to society. Of the 36 countries within the OECD, approximately 20% of the working-age population suffers from a mental disorder (most commonly depression, anxiety or substance abuse). Recent studies show that mental health is often linked to poor physical health. According to a recent Australian study, young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues: 75% of all mental illnesses develop before the age of 24. The cost of mental illness is significant, representing 3-4% of the European Union’s gross domestic product:
• People living with mental illness tend to have more difficulty entering or remaining in the workforce.
• Workers with mental disorders need more help to maintain their jobs and many struggle in the workplace.
• Mental illness is correlated with more absence in the workplace and risk of reduced productivity.
Also, many people still do not feel comfortable acknowledging mental health issues. As Laplane states, “Mental disorders still represent a taboo, which has been neglected for too long.”