Mental health disorders could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030, according to The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health. That’s more than the GDP of China.
That estimate includes direct costs such as healthcare as well as indirect costs such as lost productivity. It is a substantial economic and social challenge.
Here in five charts, we capture the scale and the nature of the challenge, and the benefits of taking a proactive approach.
Mental health is a colossal global issue. 970m people globally have a serious mental health condition. The most widespread are anxiety disorders, with 284m people currently experiencing one.
Inevitably mental health conditions take a toll in the workplace. In the UK, for example, 17.5m working days were lost due to mental health conditions in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey. That’s up 33 per cent from 13.2m in 2009.
Working more than forty hours per week is associated with an increased stroke risk, according to research published in The Lancet medical journal.
Another study highlighted links between working more than forty hour weeks and a greater risk of depression, as well as unhealthy behaviours such as drinking and smoking more.
Many countries have average work hours well above this level. In Australia, Britain and the US, average work hours top these levels. In Mexico people work, on average, 48.5 hours per week, according to OECD data.
In India, urban workers on average do 53-54 hours per week, while in villages people work 46-47 hours per week, according to the National Sample Survey Office.
For businesses, being proactive with mental health reaps returns, according to a study by the UK Department of Health.
The study models an intervention targeting anxiety and depression involving assessment (£30.90 per employee) and CBT treatment (£240). For a company of 500 employees where two thirds pursue treatment, an investment of £20,676 saves £83,278 over two years. That figure includes reduced absenteeism and presenteeism.
Investing £80 per employee per year in wellbeing promotion through information, advice and workshops etc.- £40,000 for a company of 500 employees- would save £347,722 in the first year alone.
Stress is a significant cause of mental distress and disability.
The UK Mental Health Foundation defines stress as “the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable”.
Americans have consistently rated their stress levels well above what they perceive as healthy, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual stress surveys.
The most recent survey indicated, on average, Americans view their stress level almost 30 per cent above a healthy level.
More than three quarters reported physical or emotional symptoms of stress, including headaches, feeling tired or changed sleeping habits.