Washington: Psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective in boosting happiness than simply obtaining more money, according to a study.
The research by the University of Warwick and the University of Manchester 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.
The scientists also showed that the increase in well-being from an 800 pounds course of therapy was so large that it would take a pay rise of over 25,000 pounds to achieve an equivalent increase in well-being.
Thus, the researchers concluded that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.
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.
The 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 study also helps to highlight how relatively ineffective extra income is at raising well-being.
The research also has important implications for the way in which “pain and suffering” is compensated in courts of law – financially.
It 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.
“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,” said Chris Boyce, University of Warwick researcher.
The study is published online this week at: Health Economics, Policy and Law.