CENTER FOR ECONOMIC WELL-BEING

The link between economic inequality and poor mental health is strong. In fact, as inequality has ballooned, so have common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety disorders. Put simply, mental health outcomes decrease dramatically as a result of economic insecurity. The Center for Economic Well-Being is critical part of the Awareness Network's mission to promote mental well-being in all communities by advocating for economic security.

THE FACTS

"Individuals who experience poverty, particularly early in life or for an extended period, are at risk of a host of adverse health and developmental outcomes through their life. Poverty in childhood is associated with lower school achievement; worse cognitive, behavioral, and attention-related outcomes; higher rates of delinquency, depressive and anxiety disorders; and higher rates of almost every psychiatric disorder in adulthood. Poverty in adulthood is linked to depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychological distress, and suicide.

... findings suggest that poverty leads to mental health and developmental problems that in turn prevent individuals and families from leaving poverty, creating a vicious, intergenerational cycle of poverty and poor health.

Economic inequality affects mental health independently of poverty. Both internationally and within countries including the US, area-level income inequality has been associated with mental health outcomes including more depression, poor self-reported mental health, drug overdose deaths, incidence of schizophrenia, child mental health problems, juvenile homicides, and adverse child educational outcomes." - Psychiatric Times

There is "greater risk of depression in populations with higher income inequality relative to populations with lower inequality." - The World Psychiatric Association

"The deterioration in mental health in unequal countries not only affects the poor... but the rich too (albeit to a much lower degree). 'Despite unprecedented levels of physical comfort, we [in the Anglo-Saxon world] suffer a huge burden of unhappiness and mental illness.'" - Financial Times

"Inequality has a direct impact on mental health. Sweden, a rich country with an excellent and accessible health service, but low inequality, has much less social and mental health problems than the UK, with an equally good health service but much higher inequality. The USA has an even worse health score. Men seem particularly liable to mental disorders as their income declines. Depression is strongly associated with lower income and greater inequality, though this has only really been studied adequately in high-income countries." - Psychology Today

"A clear link exists between social and economic inequality and poor mental health. There is a social gradient in mental health, and higher levels of income inequality are linked to higher prevalence of mental illness. Despite this, in the late 20th and early 21st century, psychiatric and psychological perspectives have dominated mental health research and policy, obscuring root socioeconomic contributors." - Nature