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 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2019/2/mental-health-costs-us-money-stigma-in-statistics