The Economics of Behavioral Health: Investing in Wellbeing

The Economics of Behavioral Health

Inadequate Mental Health has a substantial financial impact on Europe’s health system and overall economy, which may have an impact on the possible success of the Europe 2020 strategy for economic growth. This succinct overview examines the current knowledge about the possible short-, medium-, and long-term economic advantages of life course initiatives centered around early detection, prevention, and promotion of mental health disorders. Highlighted are initiatives that can be implemented both inside and outside of the mental health system, based on recent economic assessments conducted in the UK and enhanced by information gathered from other regions of Europe and beyond. The degree of evidence foundation strength and the amount of time needed to see a return on investment vary widely. The most appealing initiatives include workplace health promotion programs and early childhood initiatives that can have significant advantages that extend far into adulthood. Higher work retention rates lessen the requirement to make employment- and disability-related social assistance payments. Activities aimed at promoting workplace health may also lower the likelihood of an early retirement from mental illness. 

Effect on Economy on Behavior Health 

Poor mental health is a risk that no one can escape. Currently, one in four EU members may have a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Up to 10% of Europeans suffer from a depressive or anxiety-related disorder annually, with women more likely than men to do so.

In Europe, poor mental health has a substantial financial impact on the healthcare system as well as the broader economy, which may have an impact on the possible success of the Europe 2020 strategy for economic growth. According to estimates, the European Economic Area’s overall depression-related costs came to €136.3 billion (in 2007 currency).

People are being encouraged to work past the customary retirement age due to financial concerns about the viability of social welfare and pension programs; in response, several nations are raising the retirement age or doing away with forced retirement. These steps may not be as effective if people with mental health issues retire or withdraw from the workforce too soon. In any case, if nothing is done, the widespread effects of poor mental health are expected to worsen since, by 2030, depression, in particular, is expected to overtake all other causes of morbidity in high-income countries. There is a need for the economy for behavioral health consulting services.

Possible Long-term Gains from Funding Mental Health

In theory, having greater mental health has a lot of advantages. A person in good mental health can manage life’s typical stressors, work effectively and efficiently, and contribute to the financial well-being of society. Youngsters with improved mental health and wellness may have higher academic achievement, which could lead to better employment opportunities later in life. On the other hand, kids with serious behavioral issues place a heavy burden on the health, social services, and education systems, with unfavorable effects that may last until adulthood. 

Good mental capital, or mental health, enables Cognitive and affective adaptability, the cornerstone of social skills and stress resilience. Innovation and creativity have been linked to improved mental health. Employees who experience depression regularly, on the other hand, are likely to be less productive at work and have absenteeism rates greater than usual 9. A mentally sound labor force is necessary if Europe is to reach its 2020 Strategy target of 75% of working-age individuals being employed. Seniors may be more susceptible to social isolation and sadness, which can have a detrimental effect on their physical health. 

Putting Money into Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

Investing in children’s and teenagers’ mental health and well-being is one important area where there are long-term advantages for health and other industries. Numerous studies have examined the cost-effectiveness of interventions, notably those aimed at addressing or preventing emotional difficulties, bullying, and violence in school-aged children. Many effective programs that were first created in the US or Australia are now being implemented in some EU nations, but caution must be used when estimating prospective economic returns because a large portion of this evidence base was generated outside of Europe.

While some interventions are provided in school-based settings, others are provided inside the health care system, like as support for new moms from nurses and other staff members. Given the significant costs associated with long-term mental health issues in terms of health, criminality, education, and employment, potentially early interventions to reduce the risk of these conditions can be very cost-effective, requiring only modest effects to warrant investment. It is important to boost the economy for mental and behavioral health.

Important Points

  • Numerous research studies have examined the long-term financial advantages of supporting children’s mental health and wellness.
  • Programs for new mothers that provide nurse home visits have been linked to a long-term return on investment in the US of between €2 and €5 for every €1 invested.
  • Research has indicated that in the UK, programs that involve parental initiatives and social/emotional assistance for children can yield a return on investment of up to €8 for every €1 invested.
  • The majority of the advantages of improved mental health and wellness in infancy extend beyond the medical field, such as to the criminal justice and educational systems. 
  • Approximately 13% of women experience moderate to severe postnatal depression in the initial months after giving birth.
  • Investing in psychological therapies after universal screening for women at high risk of postpartum depression seems to be a cost-efficient and beneficial strategy in the near term.
  • Long-term research indicates that youngsters may also benefit in the long run in terms of their health and education. 


Economic restructuring is a continuous activity that is not limited to the current economic environment. Interventions aimed at bolstering the resilience and mental health of individuals who have lost their jobs or are in danger of losing them as well as those who are required to change roles at work may also be of interest. Reduced mental health has been linked to job loss and role reduction; once more, early intervention can lower the likelihood of these occurrences and the resource implications for healthcare systems.

The treatment of postpartum depression, lowering the risk of suicide, early detection of psychosis, improving the mental health of the elderly, utilizing debt and financial advice services, addressing chronic co-morbid physical and mental health issues, and addressing the problem of medically unexplained systems are some of the other initiatives that are examined here.


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