Cost and Impact of Non-Treating Severe Mental Illnesses (SMIs): The Case Study of Schizophrenia

January 2015

Cost and Impact of Non-Treating Severe Mental Illnesses (SMIs)

The socioeconomic impact of non-treatment of brain disorders, particularly when it comes to mental health illnesses, is shocking. A recent OECD report entitled “Making Mental Health Count” points out that health, social, and employment services should intervene earlier, involve key stakeholders and ensure they work together with the community in order to help people with mental health issues not only to tackle these but also be able to find work or stay in a job. The case study of schizophrenia provides a revealing example of a highly prevalent mental health condition that can still account for a large proportion of individuals that are not diagnosed, do not get any evidence-based treatment, or are likely to receive diagnosis and treatment with years of delay. Still, evidence shows that, if they are enrolled in appropriate treatment programmes, they can struggle to overcome non-adherence issues.

This report takes the forefront position to be used as important source of information for academic, as well as policy and practitioner stakeholders when looking into the multidimensional impact that nontreatment of schizophrenia has on the use of health and social care resources, criminal justice services, employment, education, violence and premature death, and homelessness.

Crucially, this report is a first step towards addressing a worrying lack of evidence of the impact of unmet needs in schizophrenia beyond local settings or country specific evaluations, as well as making us all aware of the challenges that need to be overcome to support future research. What is more, this study is part of the broader investigation by the European Brain Council (EBC) of the cost of non-treatment of brain disorders in Europe. By providing an extensive review of the case for schizophrenia, it sheds light on the crucial issues to be looked at and provides for a robust methodology that can be translated to the other conditions to be considered in EBC’s broader study.