The most recent data available indicates that, in 2016–17, the national recurrent expenditure on mental health–related services was around $9.0 billion (AIHW, 2019). Poor mental health also has economic consequences beyond healthcare, with other costs incurred in the areas of justice, aged care, housing and education.
A scoping study was used to determine the span of the economic evidence regarding mental health promotion and prevention initiatives. The review identified what current economic evidence is available relating to mental health promotion and prevention as well as promising interventions that have some level of effectiveness credentials but have not been economically evaluated to date.
The results of the study were considered at a stakeholder steering committee workshop. Ten of these interventions (listed below) were chosen by the National Mental Health Commission for modelling.
- Two interventions delivered via the workplace to promote good mental health and prevent depression
- Two interventions (one physical, one psychological) for prevention of post-natal depression
- Two psychological interventions in school settings for the prevention of bullying and depression in children
- One parenting intervention for the prevention of anxiety disorders in children
- One e-Health intervention for prevention of anxiety disorders in young people
- Two interventions (one e-Health, one educational) to reduce older person’s loneliness
Overall the modelling shows that there is good evidence for investing in a range of preventative interventions, both on the grounds of cost-effectiveness and cost-savings. These include less demand on the health budget through use of mental health services (such as less hospitalisation and community based services), as well as increased productivity (via less absenteeism and presenteeism). The research was conducted for the National Mental Health Commission and published on their website.
“Nine of these interventions produced positive returns on investment, with savings in productivity and health care costs estimated at almost $290 million overall.”
Hon. Julia Gillard AC