In most advanced economies, mental illness is one of (if not) the leading causes of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity.
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. An additional 440,000 working-age people in the country care for someone affected with mental illness.
These elevated rates of mental illness spill over into the wider economy. In Australia, the annual cost of ill-health and suicide ranges from AUD 43 billion to AUD 70 billion, according to the Productivity Commission. Every year the direct cost of healthcare expenditure and other services and supports comes in at around AUD 16 billion.
In the U.S., the American Psychiatric Association estimated the macroeconomic loss at USD 210.5 billion per year. Just a single, extra poor mental health day every month was associated with a 1.84 per cent drop in per capital real income growth, or USD 53 billion lost in total income every year from 2008 to 2014, according to a separate analysis.
Why? Productivity loss from absenteeism and presenteeism is one of the key culprits.
Employees with unresolved depression in the U.S. experience a 35 per cent reduction in 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 psychological distress, with total costs from lost productivity ranging from AUD 12 billion to AUD 39 billion.
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