31 May 2012


Counting the Cost: The Impact of Young Men’s Mental Health on the Australian Economy, a report [PDF] by the Inspire Foundation and Ernst & Young -
analyses the resultant cost and impact on the Australian economy, highlighting the threat to productivity from poor mental health among young men.
The authors comment that -
In presenting this new evidence, this report provides a call-to-action, demonstrating the importance of a community-wide response to raising awareness, prevention and treatment of young men’s mental illness. 
Our research identifies costs and impacts to the Australian economy and productivity which are borne across a range of sectors and institutions. The findings of our research and modelling reveal the broader costs to individuals and employers: 
• The Federal Government bears 31% of this cost via direct health costs, disability welfare payments, unemployment benefits and the direct costs of imprisonment 
• Australia loses over 9 million working days per annum to young men with mental illness. On average they have an additional 9.5 days out of role per year 
• Young men with mental illness have much lower rates of educational attainment compared to their peers, further limiting their skills development and long term reduced earning potential by $559 million per year Government incurs significant costs associated with the provision of mental health services:  
• In 2008, the overall cost of spending on mental health care was $5.32 billion, with the Australian government spending $1.92 billion and the states and territories spending $3.22 billion 
• In addition to the costs associated directly with specialist mental health care, the government also bears a broad range of costs required to support people with mental illness - including income support, housing services, domiciliary care and employment and training opportunities 
• The 2010 National Health Report estimated that with government costs alone, for every dollar spent on specialised mental health care, an extra $2.30 is spent on other services to support people with mental illness – equating to $4.4 billion (2008 prices) 
• Mental illness in young men aged 12-25 costs the Australian economy $3.27 billion per annum or $387,000 per hour across a year in lost productivity
It offers several recommendations -
The reality is that the costs of young men’s poor mental health are already being felt throughout Australia’s economy. In uncovering these costs, this report provides new insights that can be used to guide further reforms and investment decisions. Failure to act presents a serious threat to Australia’s future productivity and to the individual prosperity of young men affected with poor mental health. Coordinated activity from all sectors – business, government, and communities – holds the promise of considerable economic and individual benefits. The findings of this study point to both the productivity opportunities and risks associated with the mental health of young men. 
Recommendation 1: Efforts should be made by all sectors of the community to support the engagement of young men to achieve higher levels of education. 
• 1.1 Improve secondary, tertiary and vocational educators’ levels of understanding of mental health, including the identification of disorders and awareness of support and referral services available. This should include professional development and tools for teachers and other educators 
• 1.2 Increase awareness and access for young men to educational alternatives such as apprenticeships 
• 1.3 Strengthen cross sector partnerships between employers and education providers to create stronger pathways from school to work for young men with mental illness. This should include focus on key transition points such as moving from school to further studies or employment 
Recommendation 2: Efforts should be made by all sectors of the community to support young men with mental illness to engage in more productive employment. 
• Improve employers’ level of understanding of mental health, including the identification of disorders and awareness of support and referral services available 
• Initiate new partnership models between government, mental health service providers, NGOs, employers and business groups to create strategies that proactively support employees’ good mental health and ongoing engagement in the workforce 
• Identify new partnership models between employers, business groups, government and NGOs to drive a whole of community response. This includes creating new collaborative funding and service delivery models 
Recommendation 3: Efforts should be made by all sectors of the community to evaluate the effectiveness of current policy responses and investments in mental health. 
• 3.1 Undertake further targeted research to evaluate the efficacy of existing mental health programs and interventions with a particular emphasis on prevention and early intervention  
• 3.2 Undertake return on investment analysis to inform future investment in young men’s mental health with a particular emphasis on prevention and early intervention 
• 3.3 Enhance reporting of government funded initiatives targeted at supporting young men with mental illness to achieve full benefits of investment. Key objectives of these enhancements are to drive greater accountability of public spend and to provide better transparency and access to program performance and evaluation