- Better Physical Health
2012 study in Health Services Research confirmed this connection, noting that people with physical health problems are three times more likely to seek mental health care than those without physical conditions
Just as physical health problems can lead to mental distress, mental health disorders can impair physical health; by causing sleep disturbances or impairing immune function. When both mental and physical problems co-occur, doctors typically focus solely on the physical complaint and the cycle of illness continues. However, if the mental health problem gets addressed, many patients report improvements in their physical health. For instance, a 2003 study found that the treatment of depression in arthritis patients led to reduced pain and better overall health.
- Improves productivity and financial stability
In a 2003 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 70 percent of those with mental illness had an annual income of $20,000 or less, and 20 percent lived on just $5,000 per year. Similarly, a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that people suffering from a serious mental illness earned at least 40 percent less than people in good mental health. People with untreated psychiatric illnesses make up one-third of the homeless population and about 16 percent of the total inmate population.
For those who are able to maintain employment, research shows a link between mental health disorders and reduced productivity. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 200 million work days are lost each year due to depression alone, and five out of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are mental health problems.
- Avoidance of Crime
Some studies suggest that people with untreated mental illness, especially in conjunction with other risk factors, may be at increased risk of committing violent crimes or, even more likely, becoming victims themselves. The risk increases substantially when the individual uses drugs, alcohol, has acute symptoms, less insight into their disease or poor medication adherence. Most often, acts of violence are perpetrated against family members or someone in the individual’s close social circle
- A happier life
According to a 2012 study in the British Medical Journal, people with even mild mental health problems may have a lower life expectancy. Those with the highest levels of depression or anxiety had a risk of death that increased a whopping 94 percent, most often related to heart disease.
People with mental health problems, especially mild symptoms of anxiety or depression, often fly under the radar of physicians and mental health professionals — typically at great cost to individuals, families and the public. Even if you’re able to work, fulfill family responsibilities and otherwise function in daily life, mental health problems can have serious consequences.