Every person on earth has mental health and we all can encounter mental health challenges, no matter what our background or social status. Regrettably, the odds for mental wellbeing are not equally distributed and this unequal allocation of threat to our mental health is what we call mental health inequalities.
The probability of encountering a mental health challenge is affected by our genetic composition, and by the circumstances in which we are born, grow up, live and mature.
It has been proven that groups of people who face the greatest disadvantages in life also face the biggest risks to their mental health.
In this article we will be looking at how economic inequalities influence mental health.
Economic Influences on Mental Health
The trauma and social challenges attached to poverty, hardships and financial commitments can lead to mental health problems or worsen existing trials and hinder recovery. Poverty and debt are also often tied to schooling, which is crucial to people hoping for good employment opportunities and reaching wider life goals. Education inequality can start at a very early age because children are prepared for future communication, social and emotional challenges by getting a pre-school education which due to financial lack and poor infrastructure is not available to all. This causes a growing disadvantage in education that has a long-term effect into later life.
Living in poverty/debt
Numerous health studies found that people in the lowest socioeconomic class have the highest risk of developing mental health problems. There is some indication that debt has a negative impact on mental wellbeing similar to that shown for marital breakdown and job loss. The risk of economic hardship to mental health starts early in life as socioeconomically underprivileged children are two to three times more likely to develop mental health problems.
Employment and unemployment
Employment is one of the most clearly proven effects on mental health. Being employed can be an essential component in personal contentment, creating independence, pride and self-confidence.
In opposition, the lack of employment, or employment of good quality, can reduce quality of life, social status, self-esteem and fulfillment. Unemployment or a job loss has a traumatic and immediate negative impact on mental health and there is further damage when unemployment continues into the long term. Once someone has a mental health problem, they can face considerable obstacles to re-entering the job market.
While being employed is valuable to mental health, the conditions of employment also matters. Poor-quality work is associated with lower mental wellbeing. Less job security, low income or lack of fulfillment within a position can also negatively affect mental health.
The mental health “cause-and-effect” cycle within the job market is complex and very closely related to mental wellbeing.
Lack of scholastic success has been linked with mental health problems in later life. Women with fewer or lower learning achievement and lacking adequate reading ability are at five times more risk of depression than those with average or good literacy proficiencies.
Education “drop-outs” has also been associated with substance abuse, mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified several risk factors for mental health within an educational context, including:
• Failure to provide an appropriate environment to support attendance and learning.
• Inadequate or inappropriate provision of education to assist those that require additional support.
• Academic failure.
There is strong evidence that students who have experienced school-age discrimination, abuse, victimisation or witnessed/experienced bullying will have an increased risk of experiencing a mental health problem. Evidence supports a contributory correlation between exposure to bullying and victimisation in children with detrimental mental health outcomes including anxiety, depression, poor mental health, poor general health, non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal fascination and suicide attempts.
Economic influences are one of the factors that place individuals at heightened risk of developing mental health problems, HealingLeaves focusses on assisting children who have experienced trauma due to economic influences. Please contact us to find out how we can help or how you can get involved.
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