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Making an economic argument for investment in global mental health: the case of conflict-affected refugees and displaced people

McDaid, David ORCID: 0000-0003-0744-2664 and Park, A-La ORCID: 0000-0002-4704-4874 (2023) Making an economic argument for investment in global mental health: the case of conflict-affected refugees and displaced people. Cambridge Prisms: Global Mental Health, 10. ISSN 2054-4251

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Mental health expenditure accounts for just 2.1% of total domestic governmental health expenditure per capita. There is an economic, as well as moral, imperative to invest more in mental health given the long-term adverse impacts of mental disorders. This paper focuses on how economic evidence can be used to support the case for action on global mental health, focusing on refugees and people displaced due to conflict. Refugees present almost unique challenges as some policy makers may be reluctant to divert scarce resources away from the domestic population to these population groups. A rapid systematic scoping review was also undertaken to identify economic evaluations of mental health-related interventions for refugees and displaced people and to look at how this evidence base can be strengthened. Only 11 economic evaluations focused on the mental health of refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced people were identified. All but two of these intervention studies potentially could be cost-effective, but only five studies reported cost per quality-adjusted life year gained, a metric allowing the economic case for investment in refugee mental health to be compared with any other health-focused intervention. There is a need for more consistent collection of data on quality of life and the longer-term impacts of intervention. The perspective adopted in economic evaluations may also need broadening to include intersectoral benefits beyond health, as well as identifying complementary benefits to host communities. More use can be also made of modelling, drawing on existing evidence on the effectiveness and resource requirements of interventions delivered in comparable settings to expand the current evidence base. The budgetary impact of any proposed strategy should be considered; modelling could also be used to look at how implementation might be adapted to contain costs and take account of local contextual factors.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s).
Divisions: Personal Social Services Research Unit
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I10 - General
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2023 14:45
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 17:29

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