Economics of Youth Mental Health | Research and Evaluation | Jigsaw

Economics of youth mental health

Economics of youth mental health

Economics of youth mental health

  • An estimated 32,769 healthy life years are lost in the youth population of Ireland due to mental health problems
  • An estimated €308,218,053 direct costs to government per year on youth mental health including mental health service provision, related social justice spending, and education supports
  • Potential estimated saving of €12,247,500 through implementation of Jigsaw service model.

Mental health and young people

Mental health difficulties are one of the main health issues for young people around the world. They are typically considered even more impactful on people’s daily functioning than most chronic physical difficulties.

For young people, experiencing a mental health difficulty can impact their lives in many ways. It can make it harder for them in school or work, trying to learn, socialise and function in their everyday lives. For example, My World Survey 2 of more than 19,000 adolescents and young adults in Ireland, found that young people who reported having a mental health difficulty were absent from school/work/college for more days in the past month than other young people, including those with a physical health difficulties.

One commonly used measure of the burden of mental health difficulties is the DALY or disability-adjusted life year. It is a calculation of the number of life years lost due to ill-health, disability, or early death. So one DALY can be thought of as one lost year of ‘healthy’ life. Based on data from the My World Survey, Jigsaw (formerly Headstrong) estimated that over 32,000 healthy life years of young people in Ireland are lost due to mental health difficulties.

A 2013 report by Jigsaw (formerly Headstrong) estimated that youth mental health cost the Government of Ireland €308,218,053 per year through health, social care, social justice and education costs. 

The impact of mental health difficulties

The impact of mental health difficulties on people’s lives also bears significant economic costs through lost income, absenteeism, employment difficulties and the need for health and social care.

A 2013 report by Jigsaw (formerly Headstrong) estimated that youth mental health cost the Government of Ireland €308, 218, 053 per year through health, social care, social justice and education costs.

The Jigsaw model recognises that mental health challenges are a part of normal development, but some young people will experience higher levels of distress.

Jigsaw model for youth mental health

The Jigsaw model for youth mental health seeks to reduce the burden of mental health difficulties on young people’s lives and reduce the economic impact of these difficulties.

The model recognises that mental health challenges are a part of normal development, but some young people will experience higher levels of distress. If these difficulties are not addressed early and effectively, they could develop into a more serious mental health difficulty.

Our early research estimated that this model of care could equate to savings of over €12.2 million per year, or about €440,000 per Jigsaw site.  

Supporting young people

Many young people can get the support they need from their family, friends or other community resources. Other young people may need early intervention support services to resolve their difficulties, while some need more specialised services. Jigsaw supports young people’s mental health directly through early intervention services for 12-25 year olds experiencing mild to moderate difficulties. It also supports young people indirectly through community and system level activities.

By reducing dependence on the primary care system and improving access to early intervention, the Jigsaw model is likely to reduce the cost of mental health difficulties to the government. In fact, our early research estimated that this model of care could equate to savings of over €12.2 million per year, or about €440,000 per Jigsaw site.

Reports and publications

Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health (2013)

Needs analysis and programme description. Dublin, Ireland: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health (2013)

Cost analysis of the Jigsaw programme. Dublin, Ireland: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

Download pdf of full report

Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health (2013)

Cost benefit analysis of the Jigsaw programme. Dublin, Ireland: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

Download pdf of full report

 

Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health (2013)

Economic Burden and Cost to Government of Youth Mental Ill-Health. Dublin, Ireland: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

Download pdf of full report

The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group (2012)

How Mental Illness Loses out in the NHS. Centre for Economic Performance. 

View full report here 

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