A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), states that mental health ‘issues’ cost Britain £70bn a year. That is equivalent to 4.5% of GDP lost through missed working days, increased benefits for those unable to work and costs to the NHS.
Whilst the report is absolutely well-meaning – an attempt to get politicians and policy makers to put mental health on their agendas by talking in tough financial terms – surely it misses a more fundamental point? Mind’s driving ‘philosophy’ (if you will) is about creating a society in which good or better mental health for all is actively supported and enabled. This is an open acknowledgement that we all have different needs and responses to the world around us; we all have different experiences of relationships, work and the other factors that might determine our mental wellbeing. Many of these social factors are not on the radar of economic analysis. What if the economic system itself (competitive, often marginalising people on the basis of age, physical states and so forth) is itself part of the problem for achieving good mental health for all?
These are huge questions – questions that certainly won’t be answered in a blog. But it is good to take a moment to reflect that creating a better environment for mental health and wellbeing might involve some fundamental shifts in how we frame the debate in the first place.
by Molly Conisbee, trustee, Bath Mind