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The economic case for the prevention of mental illness


  • McDaid, David
  • Park, A-La
  • Wahlbeck, Kristian


Poor mental health has profound economic consequences. Given the burden of poor mental health, the economic case for preventing mental illness and promoting better mental health may be very strong, but too often prevention attracts little attention and few resources. This article describes the potential role that can be played by economic evidence alongside experimental trials and observational studies, or through modeling, to substantiate the need for increased investment in prevention. It illustrates areas of action across the life course where there is already a good economic case. It also suggests some further areas of substantive public health concern, with promising effectiveness evidence, that may benefit from economic analysis. Financial and economic barriers to implementation are then presented, and strategies to address the barriers and increase investment in the prevention of mental illness are suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • McDaid, David & Park, A-La & Wahlbeck, Kristian, 2019. "The economic case for the prevention of mental illness," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100054, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:100054

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knapp, Martin & McDaid, David & Parsonage, Michael, 2011. "Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention: the economic case," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 32311, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Shanahan, D.F. & Lin, B.B. & Bush, R. & Gaston, K.J. & Dean, J.H. & Barber, E. & Fuller, R.A., 2015. "Toward improved public health outcomes from urban nature," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 105(3), pages 470-477.
    3. Brimblecombe, Nicola & Evans-Lacko, Sara & Knapp, Martin & King, Derek & Takizawa, Ryu & Maughan, Barbara & Arseneault, Louise, 2018. "Long term economic impact associated with childhood bullying victimisation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 208(C), pages 134-141.
    4. McDaid, David & Park, A-La, 2016. "Evidence on financing and budgeting mechanisms to support intersectoral actions between health, education, social welfare and labour sectors," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67725, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Wahlbeck, Kristian & McDaid, David, 2012. "Actions to alleviate the mental health impact of the economic crisis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 46543, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Park, A-La & McDaid, David & Weiser, Prisca & von Gottberg, Carolin & Becker, Thomas & Kilian, Reinhold, 2013. "Examining the cost effectiveness of interventions to promote the physical health of people with mental health problems: a systematic review," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 52157, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Drummond, Michael F. & Sculpher, Mark J. & Claxton, Karl & Stoddart, Greg L. & Torrance, George W., 2015. "Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 4, number 9780199665884.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Gibbons’s journal round-up for 1st July 2019
      by Christopher Gibbons in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2019-07-01 11:00:08

    More about this item


    prevention; economic evaluation; mental illness; economic modeling; intersectoral actions;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics


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