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by Shari McDaid
06 April 2022
Associate Feature: Poor mental health is too high a price

Associate Feature: Poor mental health is too high a price

Poor mental health causes significant harm to individuals, families and our communities.  It also costs a staggering £8.8 billion per year to the Scottish economy.

This is not inevitable.  Mental health problems of all kinds can be prevented. 

Our new report in partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science, ‘The economic case for investing in the prevention of mental health conditions in the UK’, provides the most up to date analysis of the financial impact of mental health problems on the Scottish and UK economies.  Helpfully, it also presents an overview of the best-evidenced, most cost-effective interventions to prevent mental health problems. Taken together, the report makes the case for a prevention-based approach to mental health which can improve mental wellbeing for people all over Scotland while reducing the financial cost.  

We must take the current opportunities of new local councils and the refresh of the national Mental Health Strategy, to revolutionise our approach to mental health in Scotland. It’s time to increase investment in population-level prevention of mental health problems.

Our study describes some well-evidenced programmes that can prevent development of poor mental health throughout people’s lives such as anti-bullying in schools, parenting programmes, creating supportive and inclusive workplaces, and tackling social isolation in older adults. If implemented widely, they would not only support people to live well but offer significant financial returns.   Some programmes evaluated showed long term savings of up to £15 per every £1 spent.  

Poor mental health is stopping us from achieving our full potential in Scotland.  We can’t only treat our way out of the burgeoning mental health crisis.  We cannot afford the spiralling costs to both people’s wellbeing and our economy.  We urge the Scottish Government and all local councils to pay attention to what the evidence is telling us and commit to prioritising prevention in public mental health. 

This article is sponsored by the Mental Health Foundation.

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