Thursday, July 17, 2014

Attitude adjustments in life are free lunches

So says a psychology professor (and an economist), anyway;
Mental illness is the main sickness of the working age population with economic costs around 8% of GDP. This column, based on the authors’ recent book, discusses the effectiveness of a large programme of psychological therapy, launched in England in 2008. The savings due to welfare benefits, extra taxes, and physical healthcare outweigh the costs of the programme. In this case, psychological therapy costs nothing.
That's a little sloppy, as what they are really claiming is that investment in this type of psychological therapy will have positive pay offs. It's an investment in human capital. So, the question has to be, 'Does it actually work?'
Fortunately, the last forty years have seen huge progress in evidence-based psychological therapies, especially cognitive-behavioural therapy. For people with clinical depression or chronic anxiety disorders, this leads to 50% recovery rates, with many others also improving substantially. It also halves the likelihood of relapse; in this respect, it is more effective than drugs. It is also what the great majority of patients would prefer....
And if it does what these two are claiming, why should we waste any more time debating Thomas Piketty, or implementing Obamacare. There's a bigger payoff in countering depression among the working age population, that could be paid for by a combination of private insurance, medicaid and out of pocket funds.

Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

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