Mental Illness and Unhappiness

22 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2013

See all articles by Richard Layard

Richard Layard

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Dan Chisholm

World Health Organization

Vikram Patel

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Shekhar Saxena

World Health Organization

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the second World Happiness Report. It makes five main points.1. Mental health is the biggest single predictor of life-satisfaction. This is so in the UK, Germany and Australia even if mental health is included with a six-year lag. It explains more of the variance of life-satisfaction in the population of a country than physical health does, and much more than unemployment and income do. Income explains 1% of the variance of life-satisfaction or less.2. Much the most common forms of mental illness are depression and anxiety disorders. Rigorously defined, these affect about 10% of all the world’s population – and prevalence is similar in rich and poor countries.3. Depression and anxiety are more common during working age than in later life. They account for a high proportion of disability and impose major economic costs and financial losses to governments worldwide.4. Yet even in rich countries, under a third of people with diagnosable mental illness are in treatment.5. Cost-effective treatments exist, with recovery rates of 50% or more. In rich countries treatment is likely to have no net cost to the Exchequer due to savings on welfare benefits and lost taxes. But even in poor countries a reasonable level of coverage could be obtained at a cost of under $2 per head of population per year.

Keywords: mental illness, welfare benefits, healthcare costs, life-satisfaction

JEL Classification: I10, I14, I18

Suggested Citation

Layard, Richard and Chisholm, Dan and Patel, Vikram and Saxena, Shekhar, Mental Illness and Unhappiness. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2336397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2336397

Richard Layard (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Dan Chisholm

World Health Organization

No Address Available

Vikram Patel

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Keppel Street
London, WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom

Shekhar Saxena

World Health Organization ( email )

No Address Available

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
437
Abstract Views
2,394
rank
85,507
PlumX Metrics