By: Lawrence H. Price, MD President and Chief Operating Officer, Butler Hospital
Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University

The issue of cost plays a prominent role in every health care discussion today, internationally as well as here at Butler and Care New England. Most of this cost talk is focused on how we can reduce health care expenses, but a new study published online recently in Lancet Psychiatry* highlights a different cost concern.

The study examined the global economic cost associated with the effects of depression and anxiety. The investigators showed how an investment in improving access to treatment for these illnesses on a global scale would have major positive economic impact. According to their findings, an investment of $147 billion from 2016 through 2030 to improve treatment coverage for depression and anxiety would return more than $700 billion, in the form of 43 million extra years of healthy life and large productivity gains. This impressive return only takes into consideration the financial benefits an initiative like this would provide. The quality of life for those effected by depression and anxiety, as well as their families, friends, colleagues and community, are an additional and equally important consideration.

At Butler Hospital and in the Care New England Health System, we may not be poised to enact this global undertaking, but we are contributing through the three pillars of our mission. First, we are acting locally by providing quality care that is both innovative and effective to those in our community. Our researchers are doing work that is adding to the global understanding of mental illness, and shaping the future of treatment. Finally, our commitment to education is providing our communities locally and globally with highly trained, compassionate behavioral health clinicians.

*Chisholm D, Sweeny K, Sheehan P, Rasmussen B, Smit F, Cuijpers P, Saxena S. Scaling-u treatment of depression and anxiety: a global return on investment analysis. Lancet Psychiatry published online April 12, 2016.