Mental Disorders Cost Society Billions in Unearned Income

Source: NIH News 5/7/09
Major mental disorders cost the nation at least $193 billion annually in lost earnings alone, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the May 2008 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Lost earning potential, costs associated with treating coexisting conditions, Social Security payments, homelessness and incarceration are just some of the indirect costs associated with mental illnesses that have been difficult to quantify,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “This study shows us that just one source of these indirect costs is staggeringly high.”

Direct costs associated with mental disorders like medication, clinic visits, and hospitalization, are relatively easy to quantify, but they reveal only a small portion of the economic burden these illnesses place on society. Indirect costs like lost earnings likely account for enormous expenses, but they are very difficult to define and estimate.

In the new study, Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., of Harvard University, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2002 National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) [http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/ncsr-study/questions-and-answers-about-the-national-comorbidity-survey-replication-ncsr-study.shtml], a nationally representative study of Americans age 18 to 64.

Click here to read the rest of the NIH News Release

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