Reference, stats & useful resources

There is significant body of research and we have summarized some of the findings and statistics here for you.

  • Relatedness (or feeling connected with others) is one of the strongest predictors of our wellbeing. [31,32,33]
  • In 2017, it is estimated that slightly more than one in ten people globally (or 792 million people, 10.7%) live with a mental disorder. [24]
  • Depression is ranked by World Health Organizaton as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5% of all years lived with disability in 2015), and nearly 5% of the world’s population live with depression, which is 1.5% of all deaths. [64]
  • For every US$1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$4 in improved health and productivity. [30]
  • The Australian Productivity Commission estimates that mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces AU $17 billion (US $13.6 billion) every year through absenteeism and lost productivity. [65]
  • Depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. [30]
  • About 33% of adults experienced feeling of loneliness worldwide. [68]
  • Australia and the United States operate with two of the highest rates of mental and substance use disorders (per 100,000 people) in the world. [24]
  • An individual with an anxiety disorder is around 3 times more likely to die from suicide than someone without; depression is 20 times. [24]
  • Globally, one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds and nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year. [25]
  • In the USA, rates of suicide were 33% higher in 2017 than they were in 1999. [27]
  • Approximately 84% of all deaths from suicide around the world occur between the ages of 15-64 [64], the working age population.
  • Females experience depression at roughly 2x the rate of men and attempt suicide 3x as often as males. However, suicide among males is 4x higher than among females. [26]
  • In Europe and North America alone, the GFC accounted for an additional 10,000 suicides. [28]
  • Rising unemployment accounted for approximately a quarter of excess suicides during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC). [29]
  • In Australia, preliminary modelling by the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Syndey suggests COVID-19 could cause up to 1,500 extra suicides a year, if the unemployment rate was around 16 per cent (750 deaths at 11%). [35]
  • In Australia in 2020, mental health concerns are the most common reason for lower productivity, affecting 3 in 5 workers. [66]
  • An April 2018 article in the peer reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that about 86% of employees reported improved work performance and lower rates of absenteeism after receiving treatment for depression. [67]

Practicing gratitude

  • In one study, people were asked to write and deliver letters to someone they were grateful for. Their happiness levels and life satisfaction were dramatically impacted, even weeks later. [46]
  • Practicing gratitude can decrease levels of depression and anxiety (Kashdan & Breen, 2007). [46]
  • Gratitude is related inversely to depression, and positively to life satisfaction (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008). [46]
  • Research has shown how practicing gratitude, in this specific research study, gratitude towards a higher power, can reduce levels of stress (Krause, 2006). [46]
  • A 2015 research showed that patients with heart failure who completed gratitude journals showed reduced inflammation, improved sleep and better moods. After 8 weeks, their symptoms of heart failure were reduced. [46]
  • A study measuring the brain’s response to feelings of gratitude using MRI found that gratitude increased activity in areas of the brain that deal with morality, rewards and judgement. [46]
  • In a 1998 study, 45 adults were taught to “cultivate appreciation and other positive emotions”. During the use of the techniques, 80% of the participants showed heart rate patterns that indicated reduced stress. There was also a mean 23% reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol. [46], [53]
  • A study conducted on evaluating the effect of gratitude on physical well-being, indicated that 16% of the patients who kept a gratitude journal reported reduced pain symptoms and were more willing to work out and cooperate with the treatment procedure. [53]
  • In a study of 3 groups, the first group wrote about things during the week they were grateful for, the second group wrote about daily irritations, and the third group wrote generally about events that affected them, without emphasising the positive or negative aspects. After 10 weeks, the first group participants were 25% happier than the other participants. Another effect was that this group also exercised more (nearly 1.5hours/week more) and had fewer visits to physicians than the group that wrote about their daily irritations. [48], [52]
  • In a particular gratitude writing study, the participants that wrote about things they were grateful for, were found 10 weeks later to be 25% happier, have exercised more (nearly 1.5hrs/week more) and have had fewer visits to physicians than participants who wrote about their daily irritations. [48], [52]
  • Gratitude writing participants also reported getting more hours of sleep each night, spending less time awake before falling asleep, and feeling more refreshed upon awakening, than the group that wrote about their daily irritations. [52]
  • Researchers in the past few decades have established a connection between gratitude and good health. Keeping a gratitude journal causes less stress, improves the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness (Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson, 2005). [53]
  • Hypothalamic regulation triggered by gratitude helps us get deeper and healthier sleep naturally everyday. A brain filled with gratitude and kindness is more likely to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed and energetic every morning (Zahn et al., 2009). [53]
  • One study that looked at the correlation between gratitude and relationships found that people who expressed gratitude for their partners felt more positive towards their partners and were more comfortable expressing their relationship concerns. [48]
  • Individuals who feel appreciated by their partners express less resentment over the division of labour and greater satisfaction with their relationships. [51]
  • Couple studies have also indicated that partners who expressed their thankfulness to each other often, could sustain their relationships with mutual trust, loyalty, and had long-lasting happy relationships. [53]
  • In a study done by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, university fund-raisers were randomly divided into 2 groups, where one group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations as per usual, and the other group received a pep talk from the director where she conveyed her gratitude for their efforts before they made their fund-raising phone calls on a different day. During the following week, the group of employees who received the pep talk made 50% more fund-raising calls than the other group. [48]
  • In one study, 300 adult college students who were seeking mental health counselling were randomly split into 3 groups: the first group wrote 1 gratitude letter a week for 3 weeks, the second group wrote about their deepest thoughts and negative feelings, the third group did not write anything. Additionally, they all received counselling services. Results indicate that compared with the second group, the first group reported significantly better mental health 4 and 12 weeks after their writing exercises ended. [49], [53], [60]
  • Practicing gratitude in addition with receiving psychological counselling carries greater benefits than counselling alone. [49]
  • People with strong dispositions towards gratitude were identified and according to their friends, these grateful people engaged in more supportive, kind, and helpful behaviours, than did less grateful people. [52]
  • Expressing gratitude not only to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness. By producing feelings of pleasure and contentment, gratitude impacts on our overall health and well-being as well. [53]
  • When we express gratitude or receive it, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside. [53]
  • Studies have shown that the two main sites of our brain regulating emotions, memory, and bodily functioning, (the hippocampus and amygdala), get activated with feelings of gratitude. [53]
  • Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system. Scientists have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves. [53]
  • In a recent study, 83 Chinese adults, aged above 60 years, were split into 3 groups, where the first group wrote gratitude notes and words of positivity, the second group wrote about their worries, and the third group was given a mutual task. After the tasks, the groups were exposed to stimuli arousing death anxiety. Results indicated that participants of the first group showed fewer symptoms of death anxiety than the other 2 groups. [53]

Reference list & useful resources

We data and statistics we use can be discovered in these publications and articles:

1. Ruhm, C. May 1996. "Are recessions good for your health?"

2. The Conversation, 26 March 2020. "Coronavirus: why lockdown may cost young lives over time".

3. Sullivan, D., and von Wachter, T. August 2009. "Job Displacement and Mortality: An Analysis Using Administrative Data". The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 124, Issue 3, Pages 1265–1306.

4. "Can you put a price on COVID-19 options? Experts weigh lives versus economics". 31 March 2020. American Association for the Advancement of Science.

5. "How will humans, by nature social animals, fare when isolated? Covid-19 will harm people’s mental health". 4 April 2020. The Economist.

6. "The hard choices covid policymakers face". 4 April 2020. The Economist.

7. "Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Ripple or a Wave? Coronavirus won't be just a medical phenomenon". 18 March 2020. MedPage today.

8. Cummins, I. Feb 2015. "The link between unemployment and suicide." World Economic Forum. Published in collaboration with The Conversation.

9. Reeves, A., Stuckler, D., McKee, M., Gunnell, D., Chang, S., and Basu, S. Nov 2012. "Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession". The Lancet.

10. "Family violence perpetrators using COVID-19 as 'a form of abuse we have not experienced before'". 29 March 2020.

11. "NSW domestic violence support groups warn coronavirus isolation is prompting surge in demand for services". 27 March 2020.

12. "Domestic abuse advocates warn of an increase in violence amid coronavirus crisis". 20 March 2020.

13. "Causes of Death, Australia, 2017: Intentional self-harm, key characteristics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Updated September 2019.,%20key%20characteristics~3.

14. "Causes of Death, Australia, 2017: Deaths due to harmful alcohol consumption in Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Updated September 2019.

15. "Suicide Statistics". Retrieved 17 February 2022. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

16. "'Cabin fever': Australia must prepare for the social and psychological impacts of a coronavirus lockdown". March 2020. The Standard.

17. "A Picture of overweight and obesity in Australia, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare". Nov 2017.

18. Darnell, B (PhD). March 2020. "Staying Sane and Current on COVID-19, Advice and resources, by specialty, for those caring for patients". MedPage Today.

19. Hlavinka, E. April 2020. "COVID-19 and Suicide: ‘A Perfect Storm’?" MedPage Today.

20. Kanter, J., and Manbeck, K. 8 April 2020. "The coronavirus could lead to a nationwide depression epidemic that the US is not prepared to handle". The Conversation.

21. Aked J., Marks, N., Cordon, C., and Thompson, S. October 2008. "Five Ways to Wellbeing". New Economics Foundation.

22. Stephens, L. 30 March 2020. "Five Ways to Wellbeing at a Time of Social Distancing". New Economics Foundation.

23. Nicholas, J., and McMaster, J. April 2020. "Podcast: Change Happens". Ernst & Young.

24. Ritchie, H., and Roser, M. April 2018. "Mental Health". Our World In Data (a project of the Global Change Data Lab).

25. "Suicide: one person dies every 40 seconds". 9 Sept 2019. World Health Organization.

26. "Suicide facts". SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voice of Education).

27. Pesce, NL. Sept 2019. "Someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds, WHO reports". Market Watch.

28. Reeves, A., McKee, M., and Stuckler, D. 2014. "Economic suicides in the Great Recession in Europe and North America". The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.144766. Original reference from article "Recession linked to over 10,000 suicides across Europe, North America". June 2014, Science Daily.

29. Chang, S., Stuckler, D., Yip, P., and Gunnell, D. Sept 2013. "Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries".

30. "Mental health in the workplace". May 2019. World Health Organization.

31. “Well-Being Concepts”. October 2018, US Department of Health & Human Services, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health.

32. “Relationships in the 21st century: the forgotten foundation of mental health and wellbeing”. May 2016. Mental Health Foundation.

33. Dolcos, S., Moore, M., & Katsumi, Y. 2018. “Neuroscience and Well-Being”. In E. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Tay, L. (Eds.). “Handbook of well-being”. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers.

34. Liddy, M., Hanrahan, C., and Byrd, J. 28 April 2020. ABC News. “How Australians feel about the coronavirus and Scott Morrison’s response”.

35. Dalzell, S. 8 May 2020. “National suicide register needed soon to manage increased risk from coronavirus”. ABC News.

36. Scott, S., Ryan, B., and Edmonds, C. 16 May 2020. ABC News. "Coronavirus pandemic plan for mental health too small, suicides likely to increase, expert says".

37. Swan, N. 7 May 2020. ABC Emergency. "Norman Swan looks at mental health issues associated with coping with coronavirus". [video]

38. Kelland, K. 14 May 2020. Reuters. "U.N. warns of global mental health crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic."

39. Achenbach, J. 3 April 2020. The Washington Post. “Coronavirus is harming the mental health of tens of millions of people in U.S., new poll finds”.

40. Lynch, K. 27 May 2020. U.S News. "Countering COVID-19’s Mental Health Impact".

41. Brewis, A. and Wutich, A. 27 June 2020. Psychology Today. "New Study Highlights COVID-19 Suicide Risk".

42. Brach, T. 2013. Prevention. "Tap Into Your Power". 65(1), 64–65.

43. Davis, D. E., Choe, E., Meyers, J., Wade, N., Varjas, K., Gifford, A., and Worthington, E. L. 2016. Journal of Counseling Psychology. "Thankful for the Little Things: A Meta-Analysis of Gratitude Interventions". 63(1), 20–31.

44. Seligman M. E., Steen T. A., Park N., and Peterson C. 2005. American Psychologist. "Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions". 60, 410-4.

45. Smiling Minds. 3 June 2020. "The Science Behind Gratitude".

46. Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc. 29 April 2020. "What is Gratitude and Why Is It So Important?"

47. Erika Stoerkel, MSc. 2 April 2020. "The Science and Research on Gratitude and Happiness".

48. Harvard Health Publishing. "Giving thanks can make you happier".

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50. J.A. Smith. 26 November, 2014. Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. "Can Giving Thanks Help Us Heal from Trauma?"

51. A. Threthewey, J. Alberts. 1 June, 2007. Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. "Love, Honor, and Thank".

52. R. Emmons. 1 June, 2007. Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. "Pay it Forward".

53. M.R. Chowdhury, BA. 12 May, 2020. "The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief".

54. M. Oppland, BA, MBA. 23 April, 2020. "13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities".

55. Nationwide Children's. 3 May, 2020. "The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude".

56. M. Singh. 24 December, 2018. NPR. "If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It's Good For Your Health".

57. 13 May, 2020. Insight Counseling Centers. "How Gratitude Improves Mental Health".

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