The cost of diagnosed mental health conditions: statistics

Diagnosed mental health conditions are a growing public health concern - not just in the UK but around the world - associated with large direct costs for individuals and society, such as the provision of health and social care, and indirect costs, including lost employment.

The cost of diagnosed mental health conditions in the UK

  • In England, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem (such as anxiety, depression and stress).1
  • The 2013 Chief Medical Officer’s report estimated that the wider costs of mental health problems to the UK economy are between £70 to 100 billion per year – 4.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).2 However, estimating this figure is very complex. An earlier study by the Centre for Mental Health found that considering the reduced quality of life, the annual costs in England alone were £105.2 billion.3
  • This prevalence of diagnosed mental health conditions is impacting the UK’s labour force. Research carried out by Oxford Economics suggests that 181,600 people cannot join the labour force because of their mental health problems.4 In 2015, common mental health problems and more serious mental health problems were the third most important cause of sick leave. Also in 2015, mental health-related issues were found to lead to approximately 17.6 million days of sick leave or 12.7% of the total sick days taken in the UK.5
  • According to calculations by Oxford Economics, it is estimated that the UK GDP in 2015 could have been over £25 billion higher than it was if not for the economic consequences of mental health problems to individuals and businesses. This potential value is a total of 1.3% higher than it was.6
  • It has been estimated that the cost to the UK GDP of workers either leaving the workforce entirely or going part-time in order to care for someone with a mental health problem was £5.4 billion in 2015, with over 91% of this amount being due to those leaving the labour force entirely.7

The global cost of diagnosed mental health conditions

  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.8
  • Untreated mental health problems account for 13% of the total global burden of disease. It is projected that by 2030 mental health problems (particularly depression) will be the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally.9
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (such as depression, anxiety and drug use) are the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20- to 29-year-olds.10
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.11
  • According to WHO's Atlas (2014), globally, governments are the most commonly cited source of funding for mental health services, with non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations coming second, followed by employers (through social health insurance) and household income (private insurance and out-of-pocket).12

Prevention and early intervention of diagnosed mental health problems

Despite the cost-effectiveness of preventing mental health problems in the long term, there are gaps in the research base on the prevention of mental ill-health.

  • A 2016 review of depression prevention found that prevention programmes are associated with reducing depression diagnoses and depressive symptoms up to 12 months follow-up when applied on an indicated basis. However, programmes delivered to universal populations were not found to be effective.13
  • In England, early interventions and home treatment for mental health problems can reduce hospital admissions, shorten hospital stays and require fewer high-cost intensive interventions. This can potentially result in a saving of up to £38 million per year.14
  • Internet-based training for GPs in psychosomatic conditions (where physical symptoms have no known physical cause) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for 50% of adults presenting with unexplained medical symptoms can potentially bring a saving of £639 million over three years, mainly due to reductions in sickness and absence from work.15
Our 2016 study 'The Fundamental Facts about Mental Health' follows a comprehensive summary of mental health research, providing a unique handbook of key facts and figures, covering all key areas of mental health.
Find out more

Prevention: A-Z Topics

Find out more about what affects our mental health with our A-Z Topics.
Find out more
Photo of a teapot for our fundraising event, Tea & Talk


  1. McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2016]
  2. Department of Health. (2014). Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013: Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence. Retrieved from [Accessed 05/08/16].
  3. Centre for Mental Health. (2010). The Economic and Social Costs of Mental Health Problems in 2009/10. Centre for Mental Health. Retrieved from [Accessed 04/11/16].
  4. Oxford Economics. (2016). The economic importance of safeguarding mental health in the workplace. Personal communication
  5. ONS. (2016). UK Labour Market: July 2016. Retrieved from [Accessed 08/09/16].
  6. Oxford Economics. (2016). The economic importance of safeguarding mental health in the workplace. Personal communication
  7. ONS. (2016). UK Labour Market: July 2016. Retrieved from [Accessed 08/09/16].
  8. Vos, T., et al. (2013) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The Lancet. 386 (9995). pp. 743-800.
  9. WHO. (2011). Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level: Report by the Secretariat. Retrieved from [Accessed 02/07/16].
  10. Lozano, R. et al. (2012) Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010. a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2010. The Lancet. 380(9859), pp. 2095–2128.
  11. Whiteford, H. A. et al. (2013) Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet. 382 (9904). pp. 1575-1586.
  12. WHO. (2014). Mental Health Atlas. Retrieved from [Accessed 05/07/16].
  13. Hetrick, S.E., Cox, G.R., Witt, K.G., Bir, J.J., & Merry, S.N. (2016). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), third-wave CBT and interpersonal therapy (IPT) based interventions for preventing depression in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 8., Art. no: CD003380. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003380.pub4.
  14. The National Mental Health Development Unit. (2010). The Cost of Mental Ill Health. Retrieved from… 02/07/16].
  15. Knapp, M., McDaid, D., & Parsonage, M. (2011). Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention: The Economic Case. Retrieved from [Accessed 02/07/16].
Was this content useful?