Skip navigation

The economic case

Mental illness brings with it costs not only to individuals and their families, but also to society as a whole – for example through costs to the NHS, social care, employers and welfare budgets. Mental wellbeing, while a worthwhile goal in itself, also brings advantages such as reduced health care utilisation and lower morbidity and mortality. Together, these present a powerful economic case for the promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness.

This section explores the economic case for public mental heal and highlights interventions that have been shown to have economic benefits (i.e. where £1 invested has been shown to return greater than £1 in savings).

Few evidence-based interventions have been subjected to the level cost-benefit analysis necessary to show a positive return on investment, but these interventions may still represent good value for money.

A detailed discussion of such cost-effective interventions can be found in Promoting mental health and preventing mental illness: the economic case for investment in Wales - a useful document for public health throughout the United Kingdom. Further information on evidence-based interventions – whether or not they have been subjected to full economic analysis – can be found on the interventions page here.


Further reading

The cost of poor mental health

The economic benefits of mental wellbeing

Examples of interventions that have been shown to have economic benefits

Resources and references: the economic case for mental health

Mental illness cause and consequence of inequalities

The impact of the UK recession and welfare reform on mental health - including background, description of the wide-ranging impact recession and welfare reform may have on mental health and evidence-based action to mitigate projected negative health impacts. This page also contains further resources on the topic. 

Workplace mental health



Friedli L, Parsonage M.  Promoting mental health and preventing mental illness:  the economic case for investment in Wales. All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network. October 2009.

Become a Member

Become a Member

FPH is the professional home for public health in the UK and abroad. We support over 5,000 members across all career stages enabling them to drive the profession forward and achieve our vision of improving public health.

More details