Poverty and mental health

A review to inform the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Anti-Poverty Strategy

Poverty increases the risk of mental health problems and can be both a causal factor and a consequence of mental ill health. Mental health is shaped by the wide-ranging characteristics (including inequalities) of the social, economic and physical environments in which people live. Successfully supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people living in poverty, and reducing the number of people with mental health problems experiencing poverty, require engagement with this complexity.

The review presents a conceptual framework for understanding the relationship between poverty and mental health, which 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; and the approaches of prevention, self-management, peer support, community development and social movement building.

Recommendations for action are made across a number of cross-cutting areas (data and research; stigma and discrimination; and policy development) at different stages of life and across the whole of the life course. Attention is given to pressure points and transitions throughout life, particularly when these are adverse experiences such as homelessness, redundancy and family breakdown, which can be traumatic and have cumulative impacts. People with complex needs are discussed across the review

Poverty and mental health report cover

Statistics: Poverty

A growing body of evidence, mainly from high-income countries, has shown that there is a strong socioeconomic gradient in mental health, with people of lower socioeconomic status having a higher likelihood of developing and experiencing mental health problems.

Blog: Tackling poverty for good mental health

We were proud to launch a new partnership between The Poverty Alliance and Mental Health Foundation. Together we will carry out an ambitious research and policy programme to address poverty as a fundamental driver of mental ill-health. 

Podcast: Mental health and poverty

Our Head of Policy and Research discusses the impact that poverty can have on mental health on our podcast.

Report: Universal Basic Income

Close to a quarter of children and one fifth of working age adults live in poverty in Scotland. The impact of this contributes to Scotland having the highest suicide rate in the UK and the highest level of drug related deaths in western Europe.

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