Feeling depressed during days of fund crunch is natural. However, it’s a temporary low which goes away when the money begins to flow again. But long-term poverty can be detrimental to mental health of an individual, as it can induce depression. Living in uncertainty and facing days of absolute penury for a longer period can be quite unnerving and can trigger the onset of depression.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) information sheet, developed through the Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHaPP) funded by the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID), the common mental diseases are twice as frequent among the poor as among the rich. Depression among the poor is 1.5 to 2 percent more than the affluent in a society. The report further states that those suffering from hunger or debts are more susceptible to suffer from mental disorders than others. People living in crowded and shanty accommodations are also prone to depression and other mental disorders, the report says.
Poor education is also linked to mental disorders, as those unemployed with a low level of education are bound to feel the pinch.
Poverty vis-à-vis schizophrenia
Data gleaned by the researchers of this study revealed that schizophrenia and poverty share a close equation as people with lowest socio-economic status have eight times more relative risk of schizophrenia than others with a high socio-economic status. Schizophrenics are four times more likely to be unemployed or partly employed than people who are not mentally ill. One-third of the schizophrenics are also not graduates and three times more likely to be divorced.
Cyclical relation between poverty and mental health
The report says that the relationship between poverty and mental disorder is cyclical. The prevalence of one triggers the onset of the other. “Poverty increases the risk of mental disorders and having a mental disorder increases the likelihoods of descending into poverty,” the report says. The poor have limited access to basic living standards, educational and employment opportunities, and are exposed to adverse living conditions. They also fail to achieve adequate health care.
All these conditions lead to stressful situations, eventually causing mental problems. And people who develop mental disorder remain unfit to execute their job responsibilities and others may be denied a job or may lose their existing ones due to discrimination against mental ills.
This lack of employment opportunities further shoves them to poverty and they are unable to pay for their treatment. There are cost-effective mental health treatment centers, but they may be far away from their residences. There are quite a few depression rehab centers offering world-class, but affordable treatment. The aftercare and community programs of some of these treatment centers are doing commendable jobs treating thousands of mentally ill patients.
Poor people feel marginalized in the society and they inherently suffer a social exclusion, which triggers mental disorders in them. Feeling of oppression and human rights violation make them distraught and they are constantly subjected to mental agonies. In such a mental state productivity of an individual cannot be optimal and it further creates a vicious cycle of poverty and mental disorder.
It is the responsibility of the state and social organizations to initiate measures to alleviate poverty and improve mental health conditions among the poor. Supportive community networks are also immensely beneficial, shielding them against poverty and mental disorders, according to the report.