Want good return on investment? Put your money into mental health, research says

World Health Organization data shows the return of investment in mental health. An investment of 1USD results in a return of 4USD in better health and ability to work. Individuals and whole countries should rethink their investment strategy.


Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in the world. If not treated they cause not only serious health issues and death but a financial disaster for the whole world.

“In 2010, worldwide, an estimated US$2·5–8·5 trillion in lost output was attributed to mental, neurological and substance use disorders, depending on the method of assessment used. This sum is expected to nearly double by 2030 if a concerted response is not mounted.” According to the study “The global economic burden of noncommunicable diseases. World Economic Forum, Geneva; 2011”

The Study

The global return on investment analysis was led by the World Health Organization and published in The Lancet. The study included 36 countries and calculated treatment costs and health outcomes between 2016 and 2030.

The Results

If depression and anxiety are not treated adequately, 50 million years of work will be lost between 2016 and 2030. This equals a financial loss of 925 billion USD worldwide.

The needed investment to treat anxiety and depression over the period 2016–30 is estimated with 147 billion USD. The return would be 310 billion USD (43 million extra years of healthy work life) plus 400 billion USD (economic productivity gains).

The Conclusion

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, said: “This is not just a public health issue; it’s a development issue. We need to act now because the lost productivity is something the global economy simply cannot afford.”

The study shows that an investment in mental health is a very good investment. Not only for governments and the whole world but also for each individual.




Anxiety, Phobia, Panic Attacks, Fear



  • The Guardian
  • The Lancet
  • Bloom, DE, Cafiero, E, Jané-Llopis, E et al. The global economic burden of noncommunicable diseases. World Economic Forum, Geneva; 2011