Link between Mental Health and Poverty

Poverty and mental health are interconnected inextricably. Poverty exacerbates mental health issues. Mental health issues in turn affect poverty and income levels.

Interrelation between Poverty on Mental Health

People who experience poverty, especially early in life or for a long time, are at risk for a wide range of unfavourable health and developmental consequences throughout their lives. 

Childhood poverty causes inferior academic performance, poorer results in the areas of cognition, behaviour, and attention, greater rates of delinquency, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders, and higher rates of nearly every psychiatric condition in adulthood. 

Adulthood poverty also leads to  suicidal thoughts, psychological discomfort, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders. Findings point to a vicious, intergenerational cycle of poverty and ill health.

Poor mental health and developmental outcomes prohibit people from escaping poverty and families from doing so as well, further perpetuating the pattern. 

Neighbourhood Poverty

The built environment, neighbourhood variables, race/ethnicity, gender, immigrant status, education, local social and community circumstances, health and access to health care, and poverty are some of the most important social determinants of physical and mental health (e.g, homes, buildings, streets, parks infrastructure).

Poverty that is spatially concentrated, frequently in metropolitan settings, is especially harmful to psychiatric health. Poor neighbourhoods frequently exhibit symptoms of social and physical dysfunction, which can be stressful, disrupt social bonds that are good for your health, and have an impact on your mental health. 

Even when individual poverty is taken into account, neighbourhood disadvantage has been linked to many of the same mental health effects. Quality of neighbourhood services and schools, as well as physical separation of inhabitants and social isolation, are institutional and structural mediators. 

Poverty has a link with higher incidence of physical and mental disease. Yet many psychiatrists receive minimal instruction in identifying and addressing poverty. This needs wider attention.