11 June 2004
Mental illness costs Northern Ireland almost £3bn a year — more than its health and social care budget — according to the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health.
The association's study, with the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Heath, arrived at this figure by taking into account health and social care expenditure, wider economic losses and the less tangible human costs.
'£3bn in a country of fewer than 2 million people is phenomenal,' a centre spokesman said.
The study follows on from one conducted by the centre for England last year, which put total mental health costs there at £77.4bn.
When compared with England, health and social care spending per head was 6.5% higher in the province, but 15.6% lower for mental health services. The prevalence of mental illness is estimated to be 25% higher in Northern Ireland.
A spokesman for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety said: 'The ongoing review of mental health and learning disability is looking at all aspects and will be making recommendations to the department.'