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Mental Illness and Unhappiness

  • Richard Layard
  • Dan Chisholm
  • Vikram Patel
  • Shekhar Saxena
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.431544.de/diw_sp0600.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 600.

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    Length: 32 p.
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp600
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    1. Richard Layard & Andrew E. Clark & Francesca Cornaglia & Nattavudh Powdthavee & James Vernoit, 2014. "What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life‐course Model of Well‐being," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(580), pages F720-F738, November.
    2. David W. Johnston; & Stefanie Schurer; & Michael Shields;, 2012. "Evidence on the long shadow of poor mental health across three generations," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Richard Layard & David Clark & Martin Knapp & Guy Mayraz, 2007. "Cost-benefit analysis of psychological therapy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19673, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. David McDaid & A-La Park, 2011. "Investing in mental health and well-being: findings from the DataPrev project," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 39875, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A., 2011. "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?," IZA Discussion Papers 5819, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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