HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Financial Crisis May Increase Mental Health Woes

The Washington Post reports on the World Health Organization's warning that the global financial crisis is likely to cause increased mental health problems and even suicides as people struggle to cope with poverty and unemployment.  Stephanie Nebehay writes,

Medicare_3Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are already affected by mental problems such as depression and bi-polar disorders and the current market meltdown could exacerbate feelings of despair among people vulnerable to such illnesses.

The United Nations agency said the impact could be especially marked for those living in low and middle income countries where access to treatment is often limited.

"We should not be surprised or underestimate the turbulence and likely consequences of the current financial crisis. As it is we are seeing a huge gap in taking care of people in great need," WHO director general Margaret Chan told a meeting of mental health experts.

Poverty and its associated stresses including violence, social exclusion and "constant insecurity" are linked to the onset of mental disorders, she said.

"It should not come as a surprise that we continue to see more stresses, suicides and mental disorders," Chan warned.

Chan denounced the "abysmal lack of care" for some mental health patients, especially in low and middle income countries, home to three out of four sufferers. Governments must make mental health a vital part of primary health care, she said.

Benedetto Saraceno, director of WHO's mental health and substance abuse department, said mental health disorders affect one in four people at some point in their lives.

Mental and neurological disorders are often chronic and disabling, he said. Nearly 1 million people commit suicide worldwide every year, a large proportion of them young adults.

Asked about the financial crisis, Saraceno told Reuters: "Poverty can be the consequence of such events -- the debts, despair and sense of loss that may reach middle and lower classes. Even the poor can be affected by this crisis."

"There is a clear evidence that suicide is linked to financial disasters. I am not talking about the millionaire jumping out of the window but about poor people," he said.

The global crisis could be expected to affect the "stability of communities and families," according to Saraceno.

The WHO launched a program on Thursday -- the annual World Mental Health Day -- aimed at increasing funding and services for the mentally ill over the next six years.

More than 75 percent of people suffering from mental disorders in the developing world receive no treatment or care, and many are stigmatized and subject to neglect and abuse, according to the agency.

Globally, the WHO said most countries spend less than 2 percent of their national health budget on mental health.

"I am convinced that even in middle income countries reached by the economic crisis, it (the financial crisis) means less money and access to treatment," Saraceno said.

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I read the Post article also and agree with the conclusion that the financial mess is likely to cause more mental health problems. In this country alone (US), one in seven low-income folks suffer from depression, much higher for this and other mental illnesses than the general population. A financial crisis can bring so many stresses that can push people over the edge.

My blog focuses on the needs of low-income Americans and we wrote a post today on ways to look for signs of mental illness and options for getting low or no cost help. Check it out at

Thanks for the post.

Posted by: Colin | Oct 9, 2008 12:08:59 PM

At least two thirds of mental health care comes from family practices (FP) and pediatrics. When FP's of an area get a little training to increase their interest in depression, the suicide rate can drop.

FP is undergoing total defunding and dismantling by the lawyer run CMS and Medicaid authorities. It is on the ropes, about to get taken out.

Such a misguided decision by the lawyers totally controlling health care represents a catastrophe in mental health care, with harsh, hard outcomes, more deaths by suicide. It is less well known, but paranoid schizophrenics murder 1000 people a year (see V Tech). That number would also increase.

This is where the control of the three branches of government by the criminal cult enterprise that is the lawyer profession results in the deaths of people. The term, criminal cult enterprise, is not an invective. It is empirically provable set of three elements, with a hierarchy of about 15,000 people running 99% of government policy tighter than the KGB. They attack all competing sources of authority, church, school, family. Now they are taking over the banks of the US. The lawyer caused by the financial crisis. Now the government lawyer gets control of a massive amount of money and power. One cannot even make a joke without their finding out, and having to pay.

Every goal of every law subject is in utter failure, save one, lawyer rent seeking. This is a self-dealing elite in utter failure. Before they destroy clinical care, they must be removed by force by a Lincoln class executive, most likely another lawyer.

In profit, one adds value to a product or service and charges a higher price. In rent, one pays government, and gets nothing in return, just avoids getting shot by the tax collector.

I am looking for a better economics term. One pays the lawyer/government, and value is affirmatively destroyed. People commit suicide, get murdered, get disabled. One funds destruction of value. What should that be called? "Evil" does not begin to describe it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 9, 2008 1:36:43 PM

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