27. 11. 2019 09:42
About 300,000 people in Slovakia have been diagnosed with suffering from bouts of depression of varying intensities. Mental health experts, however, estimate that the real number of those struggling with depression is much higher, as only 1 in 5 sufferers is diagnosed and receives proper treatment. For the first time in Slovakia, health economist Robert Babel'a has calculated that depression is costing the Slovak economy €71 million per year.
We divided the data into two categories: direct and indirect costs. The direct costs refer to the cost of treatment as paid by health insurance companies, including stays in hospitals, and totals €23 million. The indirect costs refer to sick leave, disability pensions and so called friction costs, which means how much an employer needs to pay to replace an employee who is on sick leave. Last year the indirect costs associated with depression reached €48 million.
This means that on average a depressed patient who is undergoing treatment costs the economy €6,714 per year. Babel'a, who crunched the numbers in cooperation with the patient organisation Mental Health League and psychiatrists, as part of a project sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Janssen, adds that the study does not include the costs of psychotherapy due to a lack of accurate data, as many patients pay for this out of their own pocket.
We would also like to get accurate data for those who are on a disability pension but are searching for a job too. We have estimated they represent 50 to 60 percent of those on disability pension. This is a very important aspect as it deals with the stigma associated with depression and the treatment itself, as being active and feeling valued has a direct impact on the well-being of the patient.
Good data can help mental health experts design more efficient policies when it comes to prevention, or at least use it as an argument when trying to persuade decision makers to invest in mental health programmes.
This is a starting point for serious discussion on the topic of how to efficiently deal with the issue of mental health, as we have calculated that for each euro invested in dealing with mental health issues the Slovak economy would get back €5.
Concludes health economist Robert Babel'a, hoping that the relevant authorities - be it at the local or central level - will take note and action.