A recent study, using the World Health Organization (WHO) mental health survey, found that people with serious mental illness had lower earnings than other workers.
The survey was based on the pre-tax earnings (wages and other stipends) of over 100,000 respondents in 19 low, medium and high-income countries (not including Canada). Respondents in all countries were interviewed in person and had had either an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder episode within the previous 12 months. Workers with schizophrenia were not included in the study.
The survey revealed that the absence of any earnings is higher for people with mood and anxiety disorders than for the general population in both high-income countries, and low and medium-income countries. It also found that the reduction in earnings is equivalent to 32 percent of the median income in high-income countries and 33 percent of the median in low and medium-income countries.
The finding of an association between mental disorders and low earnings adds to the body of research that shows impaired mental functioning has high societal costs. These findings could also help guide decisions on resource allocation within countries.
See “Associations of Serious Mental Illness with Earnings: Results from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys,” British Journal of Psychiatry(August 2010; 197: 114-121), available at www.bjp.rcpsych.org.