The Link between Mental Illnesses and Poverty

Posted on 11. Feb, 2014 by in Mental health

Mental illnesses have become more common in the recent years. This increase in mental incidences has been examined by a number of scholars who have reached a number of interesting conclusions. There are major studies that have been done in both developed and developing countries and all of them have returned unusual verdicts.  According to most scholars, there is an undeniable link between mental illnesses and poverty. According to these studies, one major way of tackling mental illnesses would be addressing the common problems afflicting the poor.

mental illness poverty

Social inequality

The gap between the poor and the rich worldwide is extending with each growing day. Efforts to conceptualize on the possible solutions to wealth redistribution have not borne any fruits, and this has led to a widening rift between the various economic classes.  Poverty and inequality are closely related. One glaring way that is pertinent to this discussion is the resultant effect of psychosocial stress. A society that is critically deprived of any major social and physical investment deteriorates further health-wise and is a den of psychosocial problems.

Social inequality gives rise to a number of threats and obstacles to good health.  There is no denying the fact that the lowest social and economic class in the society live in deplorable conditions that are a breeding ground to stress, depression and nervous breakdown. The poor are exposed to risky environment and lack the basic necessities in life. They often have no respite as they are not considered to be a part of the mainstream society and hence are not accorded any major support. This perpetual frustration can lead to depression and eventually give rise to a number of mental illnesses.

Psychiatric disorders

To most people and even scholars alike, there are certain diseases that show a higher correlation with poverty. Diseases such as cholera and other malnutrition diseases are considered to be a preserve of the poor. Many hence have not opened their mind to the possibility of mental illnesses being associated with poverty in any way. Lack of money does not automatically translate to mental illnesses, but its absence has often led to increased causes of psychotic disorders in some of the inner-city groups. Studies on this subject have pinpointed that the exact trigger of mental disorders is emotional disturbance that characterize the lower socio economic group.

Substance abuse

Another interesting phenomenon that is often characterized with the low income population is alcohol and substance abuse. Coincidentally, these two are the leading cause of most mental illnesses. The link between substance abuse, poverty and mental diseases has been widely studied, and accounts of the profound nature produced to affirm the relationship. This is a problem that has been found to afflict a certain demographic group ranging between the age of 25 and 39 years. It has been found that individuals from the low income group who belong to this demography are more likely to have mental illnesses than their counterparts in the higher income group.

Mood and personality disorders

Personality disorders are as a result of emotional distress and perpetual frustrations with life. Depression is a major cause of such conditions, and it is important to note that an individual with a history of personality disorder is just a few steps away from mental illnesses.  The new phenomenon is that now we can see more and more children all over the world affected by mood and personality disorders. We see more and more teenagers with severe depression, young children with all types of anxiety and anger issues, we observe child aggression escalated to the behaviours previously seen only in juvenile criminals. The relationship between personality disorders and poverty has been established before, although recent changes in the society prompted new studies exploring this topic further. All in all, the existing chronicled studies are enough to establish a strong link.  Individual from the low income group have indicated higher tendencies of impulsivity and violence. Such reactions are often seen in individuals with low levels of skills, education and devoid of any professional career.

Minority groups

Findings from a psychosis study carried out a few years ago in London established a high level of risk to mental illnesses amongst minority groups. High cases of mental disorders and conditions were found in African American, Latin Americans and people of Asian origin living in the UK.  These studies have not in any way downplayed the prevalence rates in the majority groups have indicated that the rate of mental illnesses in the minority groups is exceptionally high.

The major explanation behind this lies in the social-economic status, education level and the employment opportunities amongst the immigrant groups.  Truth be told, but the situation is more pathetic amongst this group as most of them are unemployed, suffering from chronic poverty and lack of health attention. A multiplicity of these factors makes this group more prone to serious mental illnesses.

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