Poverty and mental health: a review to inform the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Anti-Poverty Strategy

Document type
Elliot, Iris
Mental Health Foundation
Date of publication
10 August 2016
Mental health services, Employment, Health Services, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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Mental health is shaped by the wide-ranging characteristics of the social, economic and physical environments in which people live. Successfully supporting the mental health and well-being of people living in poverty, and reducing the number of people with mental health problems experiencing poverty, require engagement with this complexity.

This review presents a conceptual framework for understanding the relationship between poverty and mental health, and draws together:

  • A life course analysis.
  • A discussion of the socio-economic factors (or social determinants) impacting mental health and poverty;the principles of human rights, equity, anti-stigma and non-discrimination.
  • The approaches of prevention, self-management, peer support, community development and social movement building.

This review recognises the corrosive impact of stigma and discrimination on people experiencing mental health problems and those living in poverty. It proposes the integration of social contact approaches around mental health and poverty within current anti-stigma campaigns and initiatives.

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