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Economics of Mental Health - Prevention and Promotion

Prevention and Promotion in Mental Health - Scoping the Literature

In 2017, Deakin Health Economics was engaged by the Commission to produce a literature review and scoping study regarding mental health promotion and prevention initiatives in the Australian context. The results of the study were considered at a ‘Best Buys’ stakeholder workshop in March 2018. The outcomes of the workshop informed the Commission’s selection of ten promotion and prevention interventions to be modelled using a return-to-investment framework. A summary of the workshop can be found here.

The interventions selected by the Commission have strong parallels with work completed in the UK and published in 2017 for Public Health England. Interventions for the Australian ‘Best Buys’ were prioritised on the basis of available evidence for clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness. The interventions were then selected by applying criteria determined by stakeholder attendees at the workshop in March. The criteria which were applied to the interventions included:

  • Scalability - to what extent can an intervention be realistically rolled out across all population groups who would benefit, and feasibility of maintaining program quality and fidelity at scale?
  • Sustainability - what is the financial cost of scaling up, and what is the longevity of outcomes likely to be beyond the interventions?
  • Opportunity Costs - what are the trade-offs, including workforce demands and re-direction of resources from other programs and/or policies?
  • Needs Based - with a focus on potential ‘burden of disease’, noting the priority is prevention and promotion of mental health.
  • Acceptability - what is the likelihood that individuals in the target population will accept the intervention, and what is the likelihood of generating ‘buy-in’ from policy decision makers?
  • Unanticipated Consequences - both positive and negative including accrual of downstream benefits and those across different sectors/portfolios.

 Details of the ten interventions are in the table below.

Intervention Number

Intervention Description


Face to face psychological workplace interventions for depression prevention.


E-health psychological workplace interventions for the prevention of depression.


Exercise programs for the prevention of post-natal depression.


Psychological interventions for prevention of post-natal depression.


School based interventions for the bullying prevention.


Parenting interventions for prevention of anxiety disorders in children.


School based psychological interventions to prevent depression in young people.


E-health interventions for the prevention of anxiety disorders in young people.


Educational interventions to reduce older persons' loneliness.


E-health interventions to reduce older persons' loneliness.



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