Mental health – a case for social innovation and LSV29.10.2015
Poor mental health is one of our largest public health concerns
According to the national health survey conducted by Folkhälsomyndigheten in 2012, which is based on 20 000 people in the age group 16-84, as many as 20% of Swedish women and 14% of Swedish men claimed to experience reduced mental well being.   The problem is especially common for women in the age group of 16-29 years. Seven to ten percent of young people in the age between 18-24 are looking for therapeutic or pharmaceutics treatment.
It is the already exposed individuals that are most vulnerable when it comes to poor mental health. According to a study made by Swedish consumer watchdog Konsumentverket and associate professor Richard Ahlström, depressions are five times more common amongst people who are of debt than others. 
The consequences of increased poor mental health are severe
Increased poor mental health leads to impaired schooling and work life
Research indicate that children that have been hospitalized due to poor mental health are four times more likely to be dependent on financial aid by the age of 23, compared to children that have had sought care for such. 
In 2014, the Swedish public insurance authority Försäkringskassan received 71 000 cases connected to poor mental health, an increase of 48% on 2012 numbers of 48 000. The most common explanation for taking sick leave – 14% – is acute stress reaction.
Severe socioeconomic costs due to poor mental health
Studies show that NEETs – young people not in education, employment or training, cost the government an estimated 10-15 mSEK (1-1,5 mEUR) per person and lifetime, assuming no added complications such as mental ill health, criminal activity or substance abuse. 
In a study published by OECD, the overall costs of poor mental health in Sweden is estimated to be 70 billion SEK, or about 2% of total GDP. Out of this, about half of the costs are consequences of direct medical interventions, while the remaining 50% are due to reduction of production and other indirect costs. 
Poor mental health leads to increased risk of somatic diseases
A person with a mental disease has an increased likelihood of dying up to 20 years in advance due to a physical disease. According to OECD, the mortality in Sweden for people with Schizophrenia is nine times higher than in seven other comparative welfare states. Moreover, research shows that people that get a heart attack and at the same time have a mental disease, are not receiving equal treatment when compared to other patients.
LSV develops opportunities on the theme of poor mental health
Much can be done – from preventative initiatives to innovative ways in the provision care. Poor mental health affects many individuals, and the potential solutions will most likely involve people from different sectors. LSV and likes of us can help in the formation of meeting places between actors, creating platforms that enables new, effective models to emerge, which can help in improving the mental health in Sweden. The foundations for LSV’s work on theme poor mental health are the following questions:
- Does poor mental health in Sweden increase?
- Is medias’ focus on children and youth justifiable?
- Why does people fall between cracks?
- Can one prevent poor mental health?
Follow LSV’s journey in finding solutions to our most pressing societal problems, with the aim of creating a better Sweden.
 Folkhälsomyndigheten, Nationella folkhälsoenkäten – Hälsa på lika villkor.
 Socialstyrelsen Nationell Utvärdering 2013 – Vård och insatser vid depression, ångest och schizofreni (2013). Artikelnr. 2013-6-7.
 Konsumentverket KO. Överskuldsättning och ohälsa. (2014) Konsumentverket rapport 2014:16
 Mörk, E., Sjögren, A., Svaleryd, H. Hellre rik och frisk – om familjebakgrund och barns hälsa. (2014). Uppsala Universitet
 Unga i Arbetslivet. Tema Unga: Unga som är utanför arbetsmarknaden. (2010). Ungdomstyrelsen
 OECD. Mental Health and Work: Sweden. (2013) OECD Publishing