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Interventions to mitigate the effects of poverty and inequality on mental health

Abstract

Purpose

To review psychosocial and policy interventions which mitigate the effects of poverty and inequality on mental health.

Methods

Systematic reviews, controlled trials and realist evaluations of the last 10 years are reviewed, without age or geographical restrictions.

Results

Effective psychosocial interventions on individual and family level, such as parenting support programmes, exist. The evidence for mental health impact of broader community-based interventions, e.g. community outreach workers, or service-based interventions, e.g. social prescribing and debt advice is scarce. Likewise, the availability of evidence for the mental health impact of policy level interventions, such as poverty alleviation or youth guarantee, is quite restricted.

Conclusions

The social, economic, and physical environments in which people live shape mental health and many common mental disorders. There are effective early interventions to promote mental health in vulnerable groups, but it is necessary to both initiate and facilitate a cross-sectoral approach, and to form partnerships between different government departments, civic society organisations and other stakeholders. This approach is referred to as Mental Health in All Policies and it can be applied to all public policy levels from local policies to supranational.

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Correspondence to Kristian Wahlbeck.

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Wahlbeck, K., Cresswell-Smith, J., Haaramo, P. et al. Interventions to mitigate the effects of poverty and inequality on mental health. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 52, 505–514 (2017) doi:10.1007/s00127-017-1370-4

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Keywords

  • Poverty
  • Social inequality
  • Mental health
  • Interventions
  • Social policy