The social and economic cost of mental disorders

The social and economic cost of mental disorders

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It is estimated that one in four people will have some mental disorder throughout their life and the main problems are anxiety and depression. David Elvira, director of the Catalan Health Service, has provided more figures: "It is estimated that mental disorders can represent 1% of GDP in loss of productivity”.

Currently, 4.9% of the total budget of the Department of Health is allocated in the field of mental health.

These statements have taken place in the double day organized by the Cluster Mental Health Catalonia, the main Catalan entity that watches over this area of ​​health.

In an earlier study conducted by the Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research, mental disorders and neurological diseases represent an annual cost of 84,000 million euros for Spain.

Thus, the results provided by various investigations have raised the alarm about the growing increase in mental and neurological problems, showing a much higher incidence than experts had estimated from previous studies.

The panorama presented for the next few years is not encouraging either, because due to population aging and the lack of resources of the health systems, a higher incidence of these pathologies and a greater economic impact are expected. Specifically, experts note with concern the increase and cost associated with anxiety and depression disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and cerebral infarction.

Among experts there is concern about the lack of response from governments to this growing demand. According to them, the stigma associated with mental disorders, as well as ignorance, constitute the main obstacles that are preventing us from clearly seeing the extent of these problems and being able to establish effective measures to address them.

And it seems that Mental and neurological disorders represent the biggest economic challenge for health in this century, constituting a serious threat to our health and social care systems, as well as to the future of the economy.

According to economists there can be no economic progress without mental health

After years of reporting and fighting by health workers, different international associations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the World Mental Health Federation, have been warned that "no health, no mental health"But it has gone further and it is the analysts and experts in the world economy who raise the alarm, concluding that there is also no economic progress without mental health. And it is that this problem, often forgotten and neglected in most health systems, can lead to drag, in addition to the suffering of millions of people affected, no less than 16 billion dollars in the next two decades, which is equivalent to 1.3% of world GDP.

In a made by the World Economic Forum (World Economic Forum; WEF) together with the Harvard School of Public Health, the economic impact of the five most frequent chronic diseases was analyzed: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory diseases and mental disorders, and estimated its economic burden for the next 20 years. Considered globally, these chronic diseases will involve a cumulative worldwide cost of 47 billion dollars during the period between 2011 and 2030, being mental disorders responsible for more than one third of this economic expenditure.

As we can see, Mental health problems occupy the first position of the economic burden derived from the most frequent chronic diseases, far exceeding the expense associated with cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer or diabetes. If it is also taken into account that people with mental disorder have a higher probability to develop this other type of chronic diseases, the true cost of mental disorders may be even higher. In this regard, experts point out that despite the weight of mental illness, paradoxically "is frequently forgotten from chronic disease lists".

For this reason, the creation of the Mental Health Cluster of Catalonia's main purpose is to offer people with mental illnesses and their families a space where they converge research, teaching and healing of these pathologies.

The Mental Health Cluster of Catalonia is considered as a geographical concentration of companies, services and institutions interconnects that share the strategic challenges of assistance, training, research and the creation of synergies.