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January 31, 2015

Mental illness is about economics, not just health

Vicious cycles created by unemployment and poverty deepen the severity and effects of mental illness

Mental Health Economics
01.31.15_mentalhealth User @CoolcatWon/Twitter

According the the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 51% of America's mental health need is met.

Determining the causalities behind mental illness in any patient is a complicated process, one done a great disservice by popular simplifications and judgements. 

As Vox reports, however, a recent Gallup poll revealed an important relationship between depression and economic issues such as unemployment and poverty. Roughly one out of five people who experienced unemployment for a year or longer report that they currently have or are receiving treatment for depression. 

"It is deeply, deeply traumatic for people to lose jobs, like it is for them to lose their homes," says Schroeder Stribling, executive director at N Street Village, a service provider to homeless and low-income women in Washington, DC. "It gets to the core of the sense of who you are and your worth and dignity and can take a serious bite out of it. And if it's prolonged, it has kind of a cumulative effect."

These facets of mental health are only compounded by the economic consequences of joblessness (loss of health insurance, income, housing, etc.) which can lead to a potentially vicious cycle and the development of chronic issues. As they worsen, such problems run the risk of interfering with successful job search efforts. 

"Work is a very, very important part of recovery for people," says Ron Homberg, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "When you ask someone with a serious mental illness what would be important for them, work is right at the top of the list."

Read the full article here.