Poor mental health has profound economic consequences. Given the burden of poor mental health, the economic case for preventing mental illness and promoting better mental health may be very strong, but too often prevention attracts little attention and few resources. This article describes the potential role that can be played by economic evidence alongside experimental trials and observational studies, or through modeling, to substantiate the need for increased investment in prevention. It illustrates areas of action across the life course where there is already a good economic case. It also suggests some further areas of substantive public health concern, with promising effectiveness evidence, that may benefit from economic analysis. Financial and economic barriers to implementation are then presented, and strategies to address the barriers and increase investment in the prevention of mental illness are suggested.


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