We have exciting news to share

26 October 2021

Comparing psychotherapy and cash transfers in terms of subjective well-being

We’ve just published new analysis comparing the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and psychotherapy in low-income countries in terms of subjective well-being. Our key finding is that the average psychotherapy intervention in our dataset is 12 times more cost-effective than the average cash transfer.

We used this wider evidence base to estimate the cost-effectiveness of two charities that are highly effective at implementing each type of intervention: GiveDirectly (cash transfers) and StrongMinds (psychotherapy).

When we repeated the analysis for these specific charities, we also found that StrongMinds is 12 times more cost-effective than GiveDirectly. This puts it on a par with the top deworming charities recommended by GiveWell.

​This is the first in-depth charity evaluation to compare poverty alleviation and mental health interventions using the same units (subjective well-being) rather than income and DALYs.

Our analysis is built upon a much broader evidence base rather than evaluating individual charities in isolation. We used Monte Carlo simulations, rather than point estimates, to account for our uncertainty in our final estimates.

Plans for future research

Of course, there are many more interventions and organisations we need to analyse before a fuller picture begins to emerge. Our research is still at an early stage, and we hope to find even more cost-effective charities in the future.

Our research pipeline includes a range of other promising interventions:

However, we cannot do this without financial support and we are actively seeking new donors to fund our future research.

Our team continues to grow

We’re delighted to welcome four new members to the team.


Samuel Dupret

Samuel Dupret

Research Analyst

Samuel Dupret will be working with Joel to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses of a wide-range of promising interventions. He has a Masters in Cognitive and Decision Sciences from University College London, gaining a distinction.

Joy Bitner

Joy Bitner

Operations Manager

Joy Bitner has worked in operations for small non-profits in Latin America for over 13 years. Besides her work with HLI, Joy is also setting up a program to provide mental health services to low-income populations in South America. ​

Barry Grimes

Barry Grimes

Communications Manager

Barry Grimes has provided communications support to HLI since our formation. We’re delighted to welcome him to the team as a full employee. He brings over 10 years of experience working in communications.

Dr Caspar Kaiser

Dr Caspar Kaiser


Dr Caspar Kaiser is a Research Fellow at the Wellbeing Research Centre (Oxford University). He’s also a co-author of our cash transfers meta-analysis which has been accepted for publication by Nature Human Behaviour and was praised by the Co-CEO of Open Philanthropy

What we’ve been reading

The Science of Wellbeing: Causes, Consequences, and Policies
Michael and Caspar joined other leading well-being researchers at a two-day workshop to discuss the first-ever textbook on the science of well-being. The textbook is co-authored by Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Prof Lord Richard Layard and will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.

A Handbook for Wellbeing Policy-Making
The Handbook for Wellbeing Policy-Making makes the case for wellbeing as the goal of government. It shows how well-being measures and knowledge can improve what the public sector does, but it is also a read for everybody who enjoys thinking about the reality of policy-making. Shortly after the launch, the UK Government published new guidance setting out how the growing body of wellbeing evidence should be incorporated in the policy process.

Towards a Nordic Wellbeing Economy
The concept of a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ is increasingly being implemented by governments all over the world with New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget perhaps the most prominent example. But what is a Wellbeing Economy in essence? What different forms can it take? How does it function in practice? And what are its benefits and drawbacks?