One of the reasons it’s difficult to get people to start spending money and creating significant programs to combat postpartum depression is because it’s difficult to quantify the cost of postpartum depression to society. No one has really done it, at least not in the US.
It’s all about money, friends. If you’re going to ask a hospital to set aside beds specifically for women with severe perinatal mental illness, or ask a government agency to create a comprehensive program for screening and referrals to psychiatric help, you’ve got to show how spending that money will, in the end, save money elsewhere in addition to having a positive impact on the health of mothers.
Australia has really got its act together in this regard. Their nationwide organization PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) commissioned a report that found that, combining health care costs, lost productivity and foregone tax, postpartum depression and antenatal depression together will cost Australia $433 million in 2012. The report, created be Deloitte Access Economics, looked at the statistics of both women and men who would be likely to get perinatal depression, and found that much of the money lost was in men’s productivity.
You might look at that figure and think $433 million a year isn’t really that much. Just remember, Australia has a population of 22.6 million people. The United States has a population of 311.6 million people. This means it’s likely that postpartum depression and related illnesses cost our economy more than $1 billion each year. If not $2 billion. Or more.
Chew on that, US Department of Health & Human Services.
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