The University of Warwick issued a news release:  “Therapy 32 times more
cost effective at increasing happiness than money.”

PLEASE NOTE:  Contact info for the study’s author appears at the end of
the news release.

Here’s the University of Warwick’s statement:

Research by the University of Warwick and the University of Manchester
finds that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective
at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.

The research has obvious implications for large compensation awards in
law courts but also has wider implications for general public health.

Chris Boyce of the University of Warwick and Alex Wood of the University
of Manchester compared large data sets where 1000s of people had
reported on their well-being. They then looked at how well-being changed
due to therapy compared to getting sudden increases in income, such as
through lottery wins or pay rises. They found that a 4 month course of
psychological therapy had a large effect on well-being. They then showed
that the increase in well-being from an ?800 course of therapy was so
large that it would take a pay rise of over ?25,000 to achieve an
equivalent increase in well-being. The research therefore demonstrates
that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at
making you happy than simply obtaining more money.

Governments pursue economic growth in the belief that it will raise the
well-being of its citizens. However, the research suggests that more
money only leads to tiny increases in happiness and is an inefficient
way to increase the happiness of a population. This research suggests
that if policy makers were concerned about improving well-being they
would be better off increasing the access and availability of mental
health care as opposed to increasing economic growth.

The new research paper, entitled “Money or Mental Health: The Cost of
Alleviating Psychological Distress with Monetary Compensation versus
Psychological Therapy” is published online this week at: Health
Economics, Policy and Law.

This research helps to highlight how relatively ineffective extra income
is at raising well-being. The researchers further draw on two striking
pieces of independent evidence to illustrate their point – over the last
50 years developed countries have not seen any increases to national
happiness in spite of huge economic gains. Mental health on the other
hand appears to be deteriorating worldwide. The researchers argue that
resources should be directed towards the things that have the best
chance of improving the health and happiness of our nations – investment
in mental health care by increasing the access and availability of
psychological therapy could be a more effective way of improving
national well-being than the pursuit of income growth.

The research also has important implications for the way in which “pain
and suffering” is compensated in courts of law. Currently the default
way in which individuals are compensated is with financial compensation.
The research suggests that this is an inefficient way at repairing
psychological harm following traumatic life events and that a more
effective remedy would be to offer psychological therapy.

University of Warwick researcher Chris Boyce said:

“We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost
effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological
distress. This is not only important in courts of law, where huge
financial awards are the default way in which pain and suffering are
compensated, but has wider implications for public health and well-being.”

“Often the importance of money for improving our well-being and bringing
greater happiness is vastly over-valued in our societies. The benefits
of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully
appreciated and people do not realise the powerful effect that
psychological therapy, such as non-directive counselling, can have on
improving our well-being.”

For further information please contact:

Christopher J. Boyce
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick
Email: c.j.boyce@warwick.ac.uk
+44 (0) 7736 930 695

Peter Dunn, Head of Communications
Communications Office, University of Warwick
+44 (0)24 76 523708
or +44 (0)7767 655860
email: p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk

Ken Pope

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