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World Mental Health Day 2021: What Types Of Inequalities Are Linked To Higher Rates Of Mental Illnesses?

Every year on 10 October, World Mental Health Day is celebrated globally to raise awareness on issues related to mental health and how to provide support to people dealing with mental health issues.

The theme for this year's mental health day is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'. So, what types of inequalities are actually linked to higher rates of mental illnesses? In this article, we will discuss the same. Take a look.

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Inequality Between High And Low Income Countries

Poverty has long been linked to mental health issues. A 2012 study based on the population of Delhi (India) says that multidimensional poverty can increase the risk of severe mental illnesses among people, compared to the rest of the population. [1]

A recent study published in The Lancet journal also talks about the inequities between several social and economic factors between high and low-income countries that cause a rise in mental health conditions among the latter populations and also, how COVID-19 has worsened the situation. [2]

Some of the factors that may lead to increased risk of mental health issues among people staying in moderate to low-income countries include:

1. Inequality in financial investment

The aforementioned Lancet journal also says that there is a global inequity in financial investment related to mental health services. Poor or middle-income countries usually receive the least amount of philanthropic funding for mental disorders, which is only 0.5 per cent of the total development support for health. This exempts the poor from mental health treatments and increases the risk among them.

2. Social and economic inequities

Our mental health is shaped around the social and economic environment we live in and is directly affected by these factors. Lack of education, employment and human rights in low-income countries can greatly impact the quality of life of individuals and families and increase the risk of mental health conditions such as depression.[2]

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3. Less technological solutions in mental health

High-income countries are more likely to have advanced technological solutions to diseases, including mental health care. On the other hand, poor-income countries are often unaware of new interventions due to a lack of exposure to digital technology. This inequity highly increases the risk of the condition among the poor and causes a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. [3]

Inequality Related To Gender Roles

The inequity of mental health does not exist only between high and low-income countries but is also found between different genders.

According to the WHO, though the overall rates of mental health disorders are almost similar among men and women, there are high gender differences among certain patterns of these disorders. [4]

This is because, gender in many ways, control socioeconomic factors such as education and occupation of men and women, and differences in these factors expose them to specific risks of mental health.

For example, women are two times more likely to get unipolar depression compared to men, while men are three times more likely to get diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder compared to women. More studies are needed on these areas.

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The risk of mental health problems is more in women mainly due to income inequality, sexual violence, low social status and other socioeconomic discriminations.

In men, the risk is high due to social stigmas, traditional gender roles, social expectations and stereotypical behaviours, all prevent them from seeking help or even talk about their mental health issues. [5]

Inequality Related To People With Disabilities

According to the CDC, adults with disabilities are five times more prone to mental health problems compared to healthy adults. This is because physical disability often limits the lives of people in many ways causing them problems such as restriction in walking or climbing, inability to seeing or hearing things and learning disabilities. These factors cause problems in their day-to-day lives, both physically and emotionally, and, increase the risk of mental health.

Additionally, the inequity in providing healthcare facilities and services to disabled people along with barriers such as high treatment costs, limited access to services, lack of best healthcare providers and physical barriers (such as inadequate bathroom facilities) make them prone to mental health conditions.

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To Conclude

Though the awareness related to mental health issues is increasing, there are certain factors, such as those discussed above, that needs to be addressed by the government agencies to enable mental health equality among people.

Helpline Numbers

1. COOJ Mental Health Foundation (COOJ)- Helpline: 0832-2252525 | 01:00 PM - 07:00 PM | Monday to Friday

2. Parivarthan- Helpline: +91 7676 602 602 | 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM | Monday to Friday

3. Connecting Trust- Helpline: +91 992 200 1122 | +91-992 200 4305 | 12:00 PM to 08:00 PM | All days of the week

4. Roshni Trust- Helpline: 040-66202000, 040-66202001 | 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM | Monday to Sunday

5. Sahai - 080-25497777 / SAHAIHELPLINE@GMAIL.COM
This helpline is a service provided by Medico Pastoral Association (MPA) and is run by trained active volunteers. If any caller requires face to face counselling, they are referred to MPA counsellors who are fully trained.
10 AM- 8 PM MONDAY TO SATURDAY

6. Sumaitri - 011-23389090 / FEELINGSUICIDAL@SUMAITRI.NET

A crisis intervention centre for the depressed, distressed and suicidal. The Helpline provides unconditional and unbiased emotional support to callers, visitors or those who write in. 2 PM- 10 PM MONDAY TO FRIDAY; 10 AM - 10 PM SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

7. Sneha - 044-24640050 (24 HOURS) / 044-24640060 8 AM - 10 PM / HELP@SNEHAINDIA.ORG
A suicide prevention organisation that offers emotional support for the depressed, desperate and the suicidal.

8. Lifeline - LIFELINEKOLKATA@GMAIL.COM - 033-24637401 / 033-24637432
Lifeline offers a free tele-helpline providing emotional support to people who are in despair, depressed or suicidal. Face to face befriending with prior appointment is also available. 10 AM - 6 PM

What inequalities are around mental health?

There are many types of inequalities that surround mental health. The primary one is inequalities among high and low-income countries depending on factors like social, economic and financial growth; the second is inequalities related to gender roles and the third is inequalities related to people with disabilities.

What are the three main common conditions linked to mental health?

The three main common conditions linked to mental health include depression, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic disorders. Several factors such as socioeconomic and gender roles can cause these conditions. Consult a medical expert for early diagnosis and treatment of the condition or help those in need.

What is the relationship between social inequality and poor mental health?

Social inequality include factors like gender inequality, wage inequality, social background and differences in healthcare facilities. These inequities can cause multiple social and health problems and decrease the quality of life of people and lead them to poor mental health outcomes.