Suffering from a mental health issue is tough enough for people and it is even more challenging for patients living in poverty. Past studies have established a link between the two, and one can exasperate the other. For example, a person facing a mental illness such as depression may lose their job and find themselves in poverty while the reverse is also true where a person may fall into depression due to poverty.
A collaborative study by Harvard University and MIT researchers sought to understand the link between severe mental illness and poverty. They discovered that providing financial assistance to mental illness patients living in poverty significantly improved their lives and it led to societal improvements. The researchers published the findings in the Science journal.
The researchers were curious why depression, anxiety and other mental illness cases are more common among poor people than in wealthy ones. They used that curiosity as a focal point on which they based their research. Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent types of mental illnesses across the world according to researchers.
Researchers found that the health conditions of people suffering from mental health illnesses improve if they receive proper medical support. Many of them are not able to access medical support because they do not have the financial means to do so, thus their condition continues to worsen. Providing financial support would allow the patients to access proper medical treatment which in turn improves the quality of their lives. If they are healthy, they can also engage in economic activities that allow them to support themselves.
The scientists also noted that providing financial and medical support also creates some benefits for the society because there will be reduced reliance on welfare. If mental health patients are empower health-wise and economically, it might result in overall reduced poverty levels. The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 highlighted the need to set up measures that protect the society from mental health issues.
Depression and anxiety cases were on the rise during the year as people lost their jobs due to the pandemic and people were forced to stay home during the pandemic. The uncertainty of the situation was too much pressure for many people to handle. Scientists hope to continue conducting more search on the relationship between poverty and mental health to create a better understanding on how to tackle such problems.