Income and mental health

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

The enormous burden and suffering from mental disorders worldwide makes it imperative to better understand its determinants. Tackling health inequalities has become a public health priority, but it is necessary to establish their causal pathways in order to implement effective interventions and policies.Scientific literature has suggested the importance of social determinants in the aetiology and course of major mental disorders and suicide, with special emphasis on the role of social disadvantage. Nevertheless, the role of psychosocial factors on mental health, and specifically the role of income and its distribution, has not been researched in my home country, Portugal.In my research project I propose to study whether in Portugal there is an association between mental disorders and absolute and relative income. I intend to use data from the first Portuguese Mental Health Survey, a national cross-­‐sectional household survey that was conducted in 2009, integrated in the WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium.In this masters thesis I present the results of my literature review on the relation between socioeconomic status and mental health and outline a research proposal to further investigate this topic.The body of evidence that I present shows that exposure to a wide range of psychosocial risks, such as low income, limited education, and low occupationalstatus, increases the likelihoodof mental health problems. Differences in health follow a social gradient, with worseninghealth as the position in the social ladder decreases.I also summarize the literature on the role of context in producing health inequalities beyond individual characteristics. Of special interest is the potential health effect of relative income and the importance of income distribution as a health determinant.Finally, I outline the various possible mechanisms for health disparitiesassociated with socioeconomic status.
Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Saraceno, Benedetto, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • income
  • income distribution
  • socioeconomic status
  • social determinants
  • neighbourhood
  • mental health

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