We know surprisingly little about why so many people suffer depression, anxiety or addiction to drugs and alcohol. We do know, however, about the severe consequences on their social and economic lives.
In the U.S., people with a mental illness are two to three times more likely to be unemployed, and their employment rate is 15 percentage points lower than for those without mental health problems. They are also more likely to call-in sick, often for longer periods, and to under-perform at work. Similar patterns are found in other OECD countries.
There is also a strong link between mental instability and poverty. In the U.S., the income of people with severe mental health problems is almost three times more likely than average to fall below the poverty threshold. This risk is much higher in the U.S. than in most European countries that have stronger social safety nets.
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