Using nudges to decrease depression

IDE Economics Yale Finding Joy Logo
September 13, 2018

Iti Bhargava (IDE’19) worked as Research Associate at J-PAL South Asia on three randomized evaluations in labor markets and the education sector before coming to Yale. This environment inspired her to start the “Finding Joy Project”

Asked about the Project Iti says: “We work at the intersection of economics and psychology research to implement strategies while navigating mental health and economic well-being.
We are creating services that include hands-on practices to identify and strengthen defense mechanisms to address anxiety, self-esteem, belonging, positive self-image, to name a few. We are using nudges to increase using these practices in the long-run as well and not just for the duration of the program.
At Finding Joy, we are working to better identify how to invest in mental health by focusing on building resilience. We conduct research and implement strategies without the bureaucracy of formal academic institutions. With our services, companies will not have to look further to keep up employee performance with respect to mental health conditions.”
According to a WHO report, depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost of productivity. According to Mental Health America, 1 in 5 adults have a mental condition. That makes up for 18% of the population. In good news, WHO study reported that every dollar invested in mental health yields four times the amount in terms of productivity!
While companies can hire specialist, high-skilled workers some of them are not performing to their optimal skill which is equivalent to a loss to the labor capital of the company. With increasing rates of depression (5.9% to 8.2% in the last five years), it’s imperative for recruiters to be mindful of the importance of mental care and how to incorporate it in their company policies and programs.

Iti continues to be interested in  Behavioral Economics, Mental Well-Being especially in a development context and enjoys taking elective classes to further her knowledge this year.