Investing in mental health may be the most cost-effective way to improve human well-being. This news comes from a report recently released by the Happier Lives Institute (HLI), entitled Happiness for the Whole Family, which concluded that mental health support provides greater long-term benefits to recipients and their household members than a direct cash transfer.
HLI researchers conducted a cost-effective analysis comparing two charities: StrongMinds, which provides free depression treatment to low-income women and adolescents in Africa, and Give Directly, which provides development assistance in the form of direct cash transfers. The report concluded that StrongMinds’ mental health intervention is 9x more cost-effective at improving individual and household well-being than direct cash transfers, which have been hailed to date as the most efficient form of charitable giving.
Depression isn’t just a health issue; it’s a development issue. StrongMinds sees depression rates of up to 25% among the women and adolescents we screen. Depression impairs cognition, reduces motivation, and depletes energy. Those afflicted may self-isolate, avoid work and school, and experience poor physical health. The negative effects extend to families. Children of depressed mothers go to school less, eat fewer meals, and are at greater risk of mental health disorders in the future.
“Before therapy, I was depressed. I could not manage to do things like eat. I had no appetite. I slept all the time,” said Clarity, who recently completed our group therapy program. “Now I am able to run my tailoring business. I am able to go to church, interact with friends, and I feel much more strength within myself. Overcoming depression has really helped me and my business. I am very grateful.”
StrongMinds’ therapy programs help participants develop mental health knowledge and self-awareness to alleviate their depression symptoms and prevent future depressive episodes. The group therapy model provides women with mutual support as they identify their personal challenges and take steps to overcome them. The skills learned in group therapy help clients develop resilience against future challenges as they arise.
“We would learn strategies to help us function, and then we’d go home and use them,” A former StrongMinds client said. “By the time I finished, I had totally changed. I could smile. I found ways to get food for my children. I even thought of a way to restart my business.”
StrongMinds believes that life’s challenges are numerous, varied, and relentless. The best gift we can give to others is a foundation of good mental health. Join us in helping scale access to mental health treatment for all those in need.