Mental Health and the Economy - Dream Health

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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Mental Health and the Economy

Economic Crisis and its effects

Mental Health
The global financial crisis may have had a detrimental effect on the Indian economy but yet it has had one positive outcome – bringing to the spotlight the country’s mental health issues. India has become vulnerable with regard to mental health especially in the past decade the economic success has increased leaving unrealistic demands on people’s lives and pockets. Economic uncertainty is ever prevalent and it is thus important to analyze and keep regular checks on how it affects people psychologically.

The economic crisis is profoundly impacting every member in a family. Within the nuclear family, various stressors exist caused by the economic crisis such as job loss, home foreclosure or loss of family savings. This places a strain on the parental relationship and affects children too. With regard to low income families, the stress is even higher due to increased pressure on meeting basic needs like food, security, clothing, healthcare and shelter. Constrained budgets has had an impact on funds for public schools, community health centers and NGO’s which affects the needs of children, youth and families.

The nation’s sagging economy negatively affects people’s lives and the lives of others associated with theirs. People affected financially and socially by the economic changes face challenges psychologically. Rapid globalization and urbanization has caused social upheaval creating stress and anxiety. During times of economic trouble, suicide rates increase generally due to the increase in stress caused by job losses and income loss. In the past two decades, debt and distress has driven many farmers and low income breadwinners to commit suicide.

It is not possible to estimate the effect of the falling economic situations on mental health but various NGO’s and psychologists report an accelerated increase in calls and visits by people affected by this turmoil. An increase of more than 30% rise has been seen by organizations working towards offering emotional support through calls. Yet, it is alarming to see that most people with mental health disorders have stopped taking medications and visiting mental health professionals as they are unable to maintain the financial requirements for paying for their treatment.

Mental health is essential to overall health of a person. It is thus important to recognize the stress that affects a person and balance one’s needs. The adverse effects of the constantly changing economy can be averted by regular physical exercises, diet, appropriate sleep and stress management. It is vital to take care of one’s needs to stay healthy to be able to respond to the needs of one’s family.

Family and friends offer the best possible support at times of need especially in emotionally stressful situations. Their encouragement and support with feedback will help one to think positive and work towards betterment. Positive thinking should be practiced by avoiding activities that cause one to dwell on why one is stressed. One can limit news consumption and make time for other activities such as music, reading, etc., to help relieve stress. Socializing and having mild fun can relieve stress by engaging in low cost activities such as trekking, walking, etc.

Psychology has amassed a great body of knowledge to help people and families address economic stress and for preventing mental health problems like depression, child maltreatment and domestic violence. With appropriate tools and services for positive parenting, prevention of childhood abuse and neglect and for fostering children, youth and families, one can effectively cope with the stress brought on by economic downturns. Many of the steps required to be taken to address mental health in India will take time yet effort can be taken to produce more professionals and train members of the community to work towards this cause, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

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