Poor mental health to cost Indian economy dearly: Report




New Delhi: With one in every five person in India suffering from some form of mental disorder, mental health-related cost would account for 20 percent of economic loss from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) between 2012 and 2030, says a new report.

The “Aarogya Bharat” report by the Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) and leading management consulting firm Bain & Company estimated an economic loss of $6.2 trillion due to NCDs between 2012 and 2030.

“Among non-communicable diseases, mental health is the largest contributor to economic loss in India. It is estimated that mental health will accord 20 percent of economic loss from NCDs 2012-2030, which is estimated at $6.2 trillion,” said Anjan Bose, secretary general, NATHEALTH, a forum of healthcare providers in India.

Mental health illness rate is very high among Indians from ages of 20 to 40, the report said.

“Mental health illness’s indirect costs are higher than direct costs,” said Samir Parikh, director, mental health & behavioural sciences, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

Parikh said that direct cost in mental health care includes costs of care like medication, clinic visits (fees), hospitalisation, diagnostic services, residential care, community services, rehabilitation and non-medical costs like transportation for treatment and care, etc.

“These are the value of resources used in the treatment of disease. Indirect costs are value of resources lost as a result of illness,” Parikh added.

Indirect costs due to mental health include costs related to reduced supply of labour (unemployment), reduced educational attainment, expenses for social supports, costs associated with consequences like chronic disability, homelessness, crime, suicide, homicide, caregiver burden, value of family caregiver’s time, medical complications of mental illnesses, early mortality, substance use and other unquantifiable costs like emotional burden on family etc.

“Other costs include those for health awareness campaigning,” Parikh said.

Mental health also affects economy through early retirements, negative expectations regarding employment and reduced productivity. On the whole, it leads to increase in expenditure for health system, individuals and households, the report noted.

So far as mental health in India is concerned, there is an urgent need to shift from curative approach to a preventive one, Parikh pointed out.