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Economic impact

Mental and behavioral disorders have a great impact on society; especially economic impacts which appear clearly in industrialized countries. These disorders cost individuals and families and cause economic burden, where the family bears the expenses for the treatment of mental illness either because insurance doesn't include mental disorders or because of absence of insurance, In addition to lost employment, reduced productivity and high levels of crime.

The costs of mental and behavioral disorders in national economy of industrialized countries are very high. Direct costs of the treatment of mental disorders in countries where there is low mental health care may be lower than countries where there is advanced mental health care, but on the other hand the indirect costs increase because of lack of treatment that cause increment of the duration of untreated disorders. It is essential that countries and regions pay greater attention to prevention of mental illness in order to avoid its impact on society and economy.

Mental illness creates enormous social and economic costs. Depression, for example, affects some 500 million people in the world and results in more time lost to disability than such chronic diseases as diabetes mellitus and arthritis. Estimating the economic cost of mental illness is complex because there are direct costs (actual medical expenditures), indirect costs (the cost to individuals and society due to reduced or lost productivity, for example), and support costs (time lost to care of family members with mental illnesses). One study estimated that in 1985 the economic costs of mental illness in the United States totaled $103.7 billion. Of this, treatment and support costs totaled $42.5 billion, which represented 11.5 percent of the total cost of care for all illnesses.

Another method of estimating the cost of mental illness to society measures the impact of premature deaths and disablements. Research by the World Health Organization and the World Bank estimated that in 1990, among the world's population aged 15 to 44 years, depression accounted for more than 10 percent of the total burden attributable to all diseases. Two other illnesses, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, accounted for another 6 percent of the burden. This research has helped governments recognize that mental illnesses constitute a far greater challenge to public health systems than previously realized.