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By definition, mental illness includes a range of mental disorders that affects a person’s moods, thoughts and behaviors. Though many people experience bouts of depression or moodiness from time to time according to life circumstances, for many more normal life becomes too much to handle through the fog of emotions. Such “simple” or ordinary things such as getting out of bed in the morning, going to work and being productive at work can become impossible.
People whose lives are negatively affected by mental illness, whether or not they realize it, can experience loss of productivity at work, loss of pay from taking days off and even their jobs due to absenteeism or lack of productivity. Mental illness doesn’t just affect the person who has it, but it can also have a negative psychological and economical impact on a person’s family as well.
Breaking down the Costs of Mental Illness
Mental illness isn’t like a physical ailment that has a definite cause or effect on a person’s body that’s measurable by a medical scan or X-ray. The cause and effects of mental illness are often much more difficult to nail down and may only appear under certain circumstances – which is often why such conditions are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Physical illnesses often have specific costs associated with particular diagnostic tests and medications usually taken over a short period of time. That is not the case with mental illness. While one form of treatment may work for one person, it may not work for someone else and sometimes a combination of therapies is needed. Mental illness is also something that will be dealt with on a life-long basis. It never goes away, it just becomes manageable, so loss of income or productivity may be an ongoing issue and the symptoms can resurface.
It is also difficult to measure exactly what impact mental illness has on families. There are psychological and financial stresses associated with looking after a person with a mental condition and accompanying them to medical appointments; these all involve aspects of a person’s life to which it is difficult to assign a dollar value.