The report revealed that in 2018–19, the annual cost to the economy of mental ill-health and suicide in Australia was estimated to be up to $70 billion.
Within that $70 billion figure, direct expenditure on mental healthcare and support services would be in the order of $16 billion.
Further, it estimated the annual cost of lower economic participation and lost productivity was up to $39 billion, while the total annual cost of replacing the support provided by carers of those with mental illness was about $15 billion.
On top of the $70 billion, the Productivity Commission estimated the cost of disability and premature death due to mental illness, suicide and self-inflicted injury was equivalent to a further $151 billion per year.
Despite the alarming figure, the report qualified the figure by saying it is not necessary to quantify the cost of mental ill-health and suicide to know that it results in damaging and costly effects on the lives of individuals, their families and friends, business and the community.
The Productivity Commission noted that it also considered qualitatively the social and emotional costs of lower social participation or stigma associated with mental ill-health.
In response, the report recommended a “person-centred” vision for Australia’s mental health system, to improve the lives of those with mental ill-health and their families and carers.
In response to the release of the report, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the mental health report the “most comprehensive report of its kind” to be ever released in Australia.
Further, he expected the May 2021 budget to include a government response to the report.
“It’s not easy reading, but despite our efforts, people are still falling through the cracks,” Mr Morrison said.