Does Health Economics Capture the Value of Mental Health?
17 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2023
Date Written: July 18, 2023
Health economics informs decision-making by healthcare regulators and government bodies but has historically paid insufficient attention to mental health. Economic evaluations must decide which benefits and costs are relevant and how to value them, and this Health Policy article considers whether these processes disproportionately (and adversely) affect the estimated value of mental health. We conclude that under current social value judgements, such as the exclusion of interindividual outcomes and intersectoral costs, the value of improving mental health is likely diminished compared to other types of health. Therefore, economic evaluations may not provide a level playing field for mental health. Decision-making using such evidence, such as Health Technology Assessment, may have systematically prioritised other forms of health, and secondary research has underestimated the absolute value of improving mental health. Recognition of these processes, and collaboration between stakeholders, is crucial to achieve mental – physical health equity and ultimately improve population mental health.
Funding Information: This work was supported by a Medical Research Council doctoral studentship (MC_ST_LHA_2019). The Medical Research Council funds the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, and The Centre for Longitudinal Studies is supported by the Economic & Social Research Council [grant number ES/W013142/1].
Conflict of Interests: We declare no conflicts of interest.
Keywords: Mental health, economics, evaluation, policy, psychiatry, psychology, value
JEL Classification: I1,I18,H43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation