Throughout the advanced world, mental illness continues to be one of the leading causes of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity. Numbers are stark.
Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Almost 3 million Australians have a mental illness, while an additional 440,000 working-age people in the country care for someone affected with mental illness.
In both advanced economies, these elevated rates of mental illness have ripple effects. In Australia, the annual cost of ill health and suicide ranges from AUD 43 billion to AUD 70 billion, according to a parliamentary productivity commission. Every year the direct cost of healthcare expenditure and other services and supports comes in at around AUD 16 billion.
In the larger American economy, the American Psychiatric Association estimated the macroeconomic loss at USD 210.5 billion per year. Every month, a single, surplus poor mental health day was associated with a 1.84 per cent drop in per capita real income growth – the equivalent of USD 53 billion lost in total income every year from 2008 to 2014, according to a separate analysis.
Productivity loss from absenteeism and presenteeism was one of the key culprits, here. Employees with unresolved depression in the U.S. experience a 35 per cent reduction in their productivity, according to the American Psychiatric Association. In Australia, the Productivity Commission estimates that employees with mental illness take an annual average of 10 to 12 days off due to their psychological distress; total costs from lost productivity range from AUD 12 billion to AUD 39 billion.
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