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Poor mental health ranks as one of the costliest forms of sickness for U.S. workers and may sap billions of dollars from the country's income growth, according to a team of researchers.
In an analysis of economic and demographic data from 2008 to 2014, the researchers found that a single extra poor mental health day in a month was associated with a 1.84 percent drop in the per capita real income growth rate, resulting in $53 billion less total income each year, said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics, Penn State, and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.
Idea - Gain - Money - People - Health
"This starts to give us an idea of what the gain could be, if we did spend more money to help people with poor mental health," said Goetz, who worked with Meri Davlasheridze, assistant professor and economist, Texas A&M University at Galveston and Yicheol Han, postdoctoral scholar in agricultural economics, sociology and education, Penn State.
Poor mental health days refer to days when people describe their mental health as not good and could include conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress and problems with emotions, according to the researchers, who report their findings in a current issue of the Review of Regional Studies. The measure does not include diagnosed mental illnesses.
Sense - Size - Problem - Researchers - Cost
To give some sense of the size of the problem, the researchers added that the global economic cost of mental illness is expected to be more than $16 trillion over the next 20 years, which is more than the cost of any other non-communicable disease.
The effect is stronger in rural counties, which tend to be poorer than urban counties. A poor mental health day in rural counties...
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