What is the real cost of prevention?


Some economists say that prevention isn’t cost effective. However there are actually three types of prevention a nuance that most policy makers and economists miss.

  1. Primary prevention- preventing a disease or problem in the first place.
  2. Secondary prevention – has to do with preventing progression or impact of an existing disease.
  3. Tertiary prevention is softening the impact a disease may have on a person’s life.

Research is now showing that many who suffer from mental illness have a genetic predisposition to certain conditions such as bipolar, depression, anxiety and a increased risk for suicidal thoughts.

So there is some evidence from new studies that is finding isolated genes that are responsible for such conditions. What if we could find out with a simple blood test ? We could know from early on and utilize all 3 prevention types to reduce our potential risks.

Current treatment for mental health is difficult and climbing an uphill battle. Many find out they or their loved one suffers from mental illness when it’s already at a pretty advanced level. What if we could know in infancy or childhood? Think of the difference that would make. Just like if diabetes runs in your family you teach your offspring ways to minimize their risk factors.

We can do the same for mental illness.

Here are the statistics

There is one death by suicide in the US every 11 minutes (CDC)

There is one completed suicide for every estimated suicide attempt (CDC)

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15- 24 years old.(CDC)

Suicide is the 4 th leading cause of death for adults 18-65. (CDC)

The financial toll on society is also costly. Suicide and Suicide attempts cost the nation over 70 billion per year in lifetime medical and work loss costs alone.(CDC)

The average costs of out of pocket expenses is 287 a month per person.

IN 2019 12 MILLION ADULTS AGED 18 and older reported having serious thoughts of suicide, and 3.5 million adults made suicide plans, 1.2 million adults made plans and attempted suicide, 217,000 adults made no plans and attempted suicide (NIMH)

So now let talk about not just the person suffering from mental health but everyone else around them.

“SUICIDE is like a pebble in a pond. The waves ripple outward. The reach of the pebble’s waves is much greater than the size of the pebble itself.”

Ultimately, in the way that a pond is changed because of a pebble, an entire community can be changed by a suicide. ” According to a 2016 study it is estimated that 115 people are exposed to a single suicide, with one in five reporting that this experience had a devastating impact or caused a major life disruption. “

Many people are afraid to talk about suicide because of stigma, but stigma only leads to silence. Silence about suicide DOES NOT contain the ripple effects.

Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people is one of the soundest investments a society could make. Benefits include higher productivity, lower treatment costs, less suffering and premature mortality and more cohesive families and of course happier, better adjusted, more successful young people. Given the evidence that these actions can be taken to achieve these benefits, the case for action is compelling.

Cost – benefit analysis and cost effectiveness analysis are two methods used to assess whether an intervention is desirable from an economic standpoint.

” Prevention, by definition, is undertaken to avoid harmful out comes. MEB ( mental, emotional and behavioral) disorders among young people account for considerable costs to healthcare, child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and criminal justice systems, as well as enormous additional costs in terms of the suffering of individuals, families and others affected.” ( NCBI)

“These health consequences represent an enormous burden during childhood and are also correlated with significantly increased risks to health and reduced productivity in adulthood. Mental disorders lead to lost productivity and functioning not 9nly for the children, but also for the parents and caregivers.” ( NCBI)

The stress and unpredictability of having a child with a serious MEB can interfere with parents work lives, or a disruptive child in a classroom can interfere with other students learning. There may also be significant costs to the work or educational productivity of siblings.

In closing it is important to note that the significant society benefits of preventing mental, emotional and behavioral problems among young people may warrant intervention even when there is no specific cost effectiveness data available, particularly if there is evidence that an effective intervention is available.


So what are we waiting for?





If you could increase your child’s self-esteem and create a positive self image for less than 10 minutes A-day at little to no cost would you do it?
Of course you say .

Let’s start with elementary and middle schools and include social and emotional learning into the classroom .
It’s too expensive , it takes too much time, teacher’s are overworked we can’t add on .

We teach children in kindergarten and first grade about the weather. It takes 5 mins a day. Why can’t we have 5 mins to teach and explore emotions? Instead of weather board, feelings board etc..

Second and third graders can read books on feelings. Spelling words could include an emotion. Can they spell it ? Use it in a sentence?

Art class instead of saying draw, paint, use modeling clay to make a flower, how about making it an emotion or social creation.

Music can be discussion of sounds that make you feel happy, sad etc.. Gym class can show children ways to creatively release emotions of frustration or anger in a safe manner.

These are very basic , simple ideas. They don’t take much time, money or planning to implement. Teachers have all experienced a variety of emotions throughout their lives. We don’t need to teach the teachers to feel.

A state of mental, emotional, and cognitive health can impact perceptions, choices and actions affecting wellness and functioning.

Studies have shown the following:

Developmentally appropriate, student-centered education materials should be integrated into the curriculum of all K-12 classes. The content of these age-appropriate materials should include the importance of safe and healthy choices and coping strategies focused on resiliency building, and how to recognize risk factors and warning signs of mental health conditions and suicide in oneself and others. The content shall also include help-seeking strategies for oneself or others and how to engage school resources and refer friends for help.

Access to school-employed mental health resources and access to school-based mental health supports directly improves students’ physical and psychological safety, academic performance, cognitive performance and learning, and social/emotional development. This training ensures that mental health resources are properly and effectively infused into the learning environment. These professionals can support both instructional leaders’ and teachers’ abilities to provide a safe school setting and the optimum conditions for teaching and learning. Having these professionals as integrated members of the school staff empowers principals and administrators to more efficiently and effectively deploy resources, ensure coordination of resources, evaluate their effectiveness, and adjust supports to meet the dynamic needs of their student populations. Improving access also allows for enhanced collaboration with community providers to meet the more intense or clinical needs of students.

It’s too important not to be done. Let’s normalize mental health for everyone and start at the very beginning.


Let’s normalize and de-stigmatize mental health

THE AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION reports “50 percent of mental illness begins at age 14, and three quarters begin by age 24.”

THE MAYO CLINIC STUDY reports The deadliness of attempted suicide has been dramatically underestimated.

This study not only demonstrates that suicide prevention efforts should begin before a first suicide attempt, but also supports prevention as being the responsibility of all medical providers, not just mental health professionals.

Let’s start with the old cliché s
It’s always best to start at the beginning.
If many mental health issues are diagnosed in young teens and evidence shows prevention efforts should begin before a suicide attempt why not start at the very beginning. Lets encourage pediatricians to include a mental health questionnaire as part of a child’s yearly physical.

A few questions on family history of mental health issues. Doctors have been asking adults for many years during physicals for family history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc.. Why not mental health?

A few questions about the child’s social and emotional skills . The pediatricians ask parents questions from birth to 3 years about eating and sleeping habits because it is imperative for their well-being. Well I say, how they are dealing with their emotions is also imperative to their well-being.

It takes a village to raise a child.
Also a true statement. Let’s take the next step and educate teachers on emotional and social needs for children. A few high schools in this country have just begun to start implementing education on mental health and suicide but its not enough. Every school needs to provide these services. Let’s not wait till high school, let’s start in elementary school
We need to begin normalizing emotions and teach children appropriate ways to deal with them. Not just sending a child to the nurse or school social worker for each incidence.
In the real world we all have to deal with challenges sometimes without warning and can’t just go to a mental health professional at each of those moments. We as adults sometimes need to reach out to others to help us through. Why can’t we teach our kids the same thing? Lead by example

Kindness matters

Everyone feels sad, confused, angry etc… at different times this is normal. Showing children that even adults feel this way tells them they are not alone. Children often model behaviors they see , so lets show them effective ways to process their feelings. Social and emotional well-being are of paramount importance.