MONEY CAN'T BUY MENTAL HEALTH...
In an effort to determine whether the individuals
and families affected by mental illness would show improved mental
health, if their financial burdens were decreased, they reviewed a
variety of programs designed to provide economic relief. Programs that
primarily aimed at alleviating poverty had varied outcomes but generally
were not markedly successful in decreasing the mental health problems
of the target populations: "Unconditional cash transfer programs had no
significant mental health effect and micro credit intervention had
negative consequences increasing stress levels among recipients."
...BUT IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVES ECONOMIC HEALTH
The researchers saw more improvement when they looked at the impact of intervention programs
aimed at improving the mental health of people living in poverty. The
interventions they reviewed varied from administration of psychiatric
drugs, to community-based rehabilitation programs, to individual or
group psychotherapy, to residential drug treatment, to family education.
They also looked at the impact of mental health help on the rate and
duration of employment and on family finances.
Here they found financial situations improved as their mental health
improved. There was a "clear trend in which mental health interventions
are associated with improved economic outcomes in low income and middle
income countries." The studies also showed that all of the
interventions improved the mental health status of the target
population, and the researchers noted that as the economic status
improved, the clinical symptoms continued to improve, which created a
"virtuous cycle of increasing returns."
The authors argue that the availability of mental health services
should not only be viewed as public health and human rights issues, but
also should be viewed as critical for international economic
development. They propose that, "the link between income and ill health
is stronger for mental health than general health and ... worsening
macroeconomic circumstances over coming years could exacerbate the
already difficult relation between poverty and mental ill health."
The authors maintain that the cost of improving the mental health of
populations in these countries will be well balanced by the improved
economic status of the individuals and populations served. They maintain
"the finding that mental health interventions can offer clear economic
benefits at the microeconomic level of households strengthened the
economic case for investment in mental health care" and that such
interventions "have the potential to interrupt the cycle of poverty
and mental ill health."
This study further supports the need for accessible, affordable, and appropriate mental health care for all populations.
This article originally appeared on TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com, an Atlantic partner site.