Mental Health Costs Us Money: Stigma in Statistics
The idea that mental health costs us money as a society is factual, but this is not a useful strategy in reducing stigma. That said, there are a number of strategies used in the effort of reducing mental health stigma that do work. Within the advocacy community itself, I feel many, if not most, are spot on or on the right track. But doing a high-level look at some of the strategies used, it's time to rethink how we're going to slow the impact of mental health stigma.
Mental Health Costs Money: Why This Is Not an Effective Approach to Reducing Stigma
I recently read an article that started out on a good foot with addressing how stigma creates isolation that causes people to struggle when it comes to seeking help. From there, it cited a statistic that says mental health issues cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.1 I'm certain this was shared in an effort to conceptualize how much of a negative impact mental illness can have, but there's something about this statistic and others like it that bother me.
What bothers me is this sort of statistic almost seems to suggest we should only care because it's costing people money. We're assigning people's value as an individual and the value of their quality of life to how much money they can or can't make for others or themselves. It completely devalues them as human beings and doesn't take into consideration how mental illness impacts mental wellbeing. I'd go as far as to say it misunderstands mental health entirely.
Compassion As an Effective Strategy for Combatting Mental Health Stigma
I believe compassion is a more effective, if not the most effective strategy for tackling mental health stigma ("Use the Power of Compassion in Tough Times"). I explain how it stacks up against the monetary strategy in the following video.
Although I only mentioned the one article, I've seen this tactic used elsewhere, as I said in the video. It's disappointing because monetary cost seems to supersede any human value. This is why I firmly believe we need to rethink the strategies we use for talking about mental health stigma and the impact of mental illness. When we do, we'll find more effective ways to reduce mental health stigma.
- Tyson, B. J., "How to End Mental Health Stigma." The Independent. February 7, 2019.
Barton, L. (2019, February 25). Mental Health Costs Us Money: Stigma in Statistics, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2019/2/mental-health-costs-us-money-stigma-in-statistics
Author: Laura A. Barton
Unfortunately, the money and capital are the most powerful determinations of up to date humane society. So, the real value of each subject is determines by it capacity to earn and to have got monetary capital, as precursor of global personal power and social prestige, as well. This post modern tendency is completely against the crucial principles of mental welfare, where compassion take up the first place. But, the antipsychiatric attitudes in communities are yet very strong, even more anti-stigma campaignes all over the world, that pretend to retrieve entire mental health care service. The irony becomes more sorrowful when it is known the fact that each person is valued by its richness, expressed in money. Therefore, every humane value is submited from the BIG Dollar, as effigy of postmodern era. Others innate and important socio-cultural qualities and worthiness are profoundly destroyed. Among them, compassion didn't make any exclusion. In this manner, we intentionally didn't take in consideration the great price of mental health striving to profiting more and more money. If this antipsychiatric tendency didn't stopping immediately, mental health cost would be enormously with fatal consequences to global and universal mental health wellbeing.
This is such a powerful and incredibly important read. Thank you for sharing this honest piece. Of all the wonderful points you highlight, I think this is one of the most critical: "We're assigning people's value as an individual and the value of their quality of life to how much money they can or can't make for others or themselves." We need to be aware of this impact, and how much room for change and growth there truly is. Compassion leads to knowledge and understanding, which leads to change. Beautiful post.
Thank you, as always, Lizanne. I'm glad you like that line and I'm obviously biased, but I believe it's one of the most important points of this blog. Statistics have their place, but, in this case, I don't think that place should include anti-stigma campaigns or messages.