Yesterday was World Mental Health Day
and people around the world joined together to raise awareness and discuss mental health issues. Fitting then, that a ground-breaking new study was released at the same time which highlights the extreme cost mental illness is placing on society. The study, conducted in Ontario, measured the impact mental illness has in the same way we measure other illnesses - like cancer and infectious diseases.
The findings are startling. The researchers discovered how the burden of mental illness and the corresponding addictions in Ontario is several orders of magnitude higher than cancers and infectious diseases. Even more worrisome is that the researchers noted they may be underestimating the impact because they aren't factoring other conditions, like dementia and autism.
To many, this won't be news. We talk a lot about mental health in this blog and often point out the high costs involved and how pervasive mental illness has become in our society. However, painting the picture against other diseases provides an excellent contrast to see how serious of an impact mental illness is having.
Here is a brief summary of the findings of the report. You can download the report in it's entirety here
• The burden of mental illness and addictions in Ontario is more than 1.5 times that of all cancers, and more than seven times that of all infectious diseases.
• The nine conditions identified in this report contributed to the loss of more than 600,000 health-adjusted life years (HALYs), a combination of years lived with less than full function and years lost to early death in Ontario.
• Five conditions have the highest impact on the life and health of Ontarians: depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorders, social phobia and schizophrenia.
• Depression is the most burdensome condition, with twice the impact of bipolar disorder, the next highest condition. The burden of depression alone is more than the combined burden of lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.
• In terms of deaths, alcohol use disorders contributed to 88% of the total number of deaths attributed to these conditions and 91% of the years of life lost to dying early.