Early-Onset Mental Disorders

Mental disorders can make it tough to hold down a job and make a living in adulthood

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Treating mental disorders may be expensive, but the loss of income later in life from mental disorders is great. It may be more cost effective to treat kids for mental disorders when they're young.

A recent study evaluated 37,741 people in 22 countries to see how early-onset mental disorders affect household income later in life. Results showed that earnings were significantly less for those in developed countries.

"Get your child professional treatment for any mental disorders."

Norito Kawakami, MD, chair of the mental health department in the School of Public Health at the University of Tokyo, in Japan, led an investigation into mental health disorders effect on the economics of developing countries.

For the study, researchers collected data from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys in 11 high-income, five upper-middle income and six lower-middle income countries.

A total of 22 countries participated in the surveys with 37,741 individuals aged 18-64.

Surveys targeted 15 different mental health disorders and education progress. Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder and substance abuse were among those accounted for.

This data was then compared to WHO household income data and employment status.

Results of the data showed that households with low income in high and upper-middle income countries had more early-onset mental disorders.

The same results were not found in lower-middle income countries.

These results suggest mental disorders make it difficult for people to complete their education and function as a wage earner in society.

Editor of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. John Krystal, said, “These new data suggest that the increased demands of economically advanced societies ‘unmask’ functional deficits that are not evident when the same problems emerge in less developed societies.”

Dr. Kawakami said, “Health policy makers often fail to appreciate the enormous human capital costs associated with untreated early-onset mental disorders.”

“As a result, investments in early interventions for childhood-onset mental disorders are woefully inadequate.”

Another one of the study authors noted that the loss of adult income is far greater than the cost of treating early-onset mental disorders. 

This study was published in August in Biological Psychiatry. Funding was supported by the US National Institute of Mental Health, and other US government funded agencies, multiple pharmaceutical company funded foundations and international mental health agencies. While the authors reported consulting relationships with some of the pharmaceutical companies, they reported no conflicts of interest in this study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 9, 2012
Last Updated:
May 17, 2013