Mental health problems cost the Scottish economy at least GBP 8.8 billion a year. New research
Mental Health Foundation calls for Scottish Government commitment to cost-effective prevention of poor mental health
Cost to UK economy is at least £117.9 billion, around 5 per cent of GDP
Mental health problems cost the Scottish economy at least £8.8 billion annually according to a new report published today by the Mental Health Foundation and London School of Economics and Political Science with support from the University of Strathclyde.
Almost three-quarters of the cost (72%) is due to the lost productivity of people living with mental health conditions and costs incurred by unpaid informal carers who take on a great deal of responsibility in providing mental health support in our communities.
To put the economic cost of mental ill-health in Scotland into context, the NHS Scotland operating budget for 2020/21 was around £15.3 billion.
The UK cost is at least £117.9 billion – equivalent to around 5 per cent of the GDP. Across the UK there were 10.3 million recorded instances of mental ill-health over a one-year period, and the third most common cause of disability was depression.
The report, ‘The economic case for investing in the prevention of mental health conditions in the UK’, makes the case for a prevention-based approach to mental health which would both improve mental wellbeing while reducing the economic costs of poor mental health.
Research gathered from the UK and internationally shows the potential public health and economic benefit of programmes that target and prevent mental health problems and empower more people to live well, for example, by addressing issues such as perinatal depression, bullying, and social isolation in older people.
Other well-evidenced initiatives include promoting positive parenting, rapid access to psychological and psychosocial supports for people with identified needs and building supportive and inclusive workplaces.
A growing number of studies report on the significant return on investment from parenting programmes. Methods and costs vary, but those assessed in this way cover a long-time frame and report positive returns of up to £15.80 in long-term savings for every £1 spent on delivering the programme.
Similarly, a review of workplace interventions found savings of £5 for every £1 invested in supporting mental health.
The £8.8 billion costs to the Scottish economy are likely to be a significant underestimate of the true costs – based on the lack of data available around some key areas. For example, health service costs are based on the number of people receiving treatment and do not consider the many people who would benefit from treatment but either does not receive it because of pressure on services or do not seek help. Additionally, no costs are included for reduced performance at work due to mental health problems, costs to criminal justice and housing systems linked to poor mental health, costs associated with addiction issues, or the costs associated with self-harm and suicide.
For further information and interview requests please email [email protected]
Notes to editors
The report was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation in order to:
(1) provide an updated estimate on the costs of mental health problems to the UK
(2) make the case for investing in evidence-based interventions to prevent mental health problems from developing
The lead authors of the report are David McDaid and A-La Park, Care, Policy and Evaluation Centre, Department of Health Policy London School of Economics and Political Science
Gavin Davidson, Queens University Belfast
Ann John, Swansea University
Lee Knifton, Mental Health Foundation
Shari McDaid, Mental Health Foundation
Alec Morton, University of Strathclyde
Lucy Thorpe, Mental Health Foundation
Naomi Wilson, Mental Health Foundation
The prevalence-based costing model used in the study draws on data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) database. We have included 11 of the 12 categories of mental health problems used in the GBD
The study does not include intellectual disabilities, neurological conditions such as dementia, or alcohol and substance use disorders. The actions needed to address these conditions are different from the preventative actions focused on in this report
Costs included: health and social care costs; additional educational support costs; productivity costs; informal care costs; quality of life-related costs
Costs in context
Costs per nation
Percentage of cost per age group
About the Mental Health Foundation
- Our vision is of good mental health for all
The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems
We drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all, and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk
The Foundation is the home of Mental Health Awareness Week
About London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is an internationally renowned university specialising in the social sciences. Its expertise spans a wide range of disciplines from economics, politics and law, to sociology, health policy, accounting and finance.
As one of the most international universities in the world, the School’s diversity of people, ideas and interests make it an exciting centre for research, teaching and public engagement.
Established in 1895, the original vision of LSE as ‘a community of people and ideas, founded to know the causes of things, for the betterment of society’ remains true to this day. It continues to use its research-led expertise to influence governments, NGOs, businesses and others to help tackle the world’s most pressing problems. For more information visit lse.ac.uk