National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Economic Crisis and Mental Health

October 22, 2008

The World Health Organization has warned that the global financial crisis will likely cause increased mental health problems and suicides as people cope with poverty and unemployment.

According to The Washington Post, hundreds of millions of people are already affected by mental illnesses worldwide and the current market crisis could worsen feelings of despair. Additionally, poverty and related stresses may trigger the onset of mental illness in others. 

"Governments must make mental health a vital part of primary health care," said Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization.

CNN also reports that a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that following a decade-long decrease, suicide rates in the United States have risen, largely because of an increase in middle-aged white men and women. The reason for the increase is unknown, but experts are concerned that if economic conditions continue to decline, suicides could go up.

"There is a considerable risk that the current economic situation may result in a further spike in the suicide rate for men of working age, especially if we start to see an increase in unemployment and a decrease in housing affordability and consumer sentiment," said Seetal Dodd, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Other factors affecting the middle-aged include caring for aging parents and coping with substance abuse or unemployment.

Additional Resources:

Strategies for People Living with Mental Illness: Ten Tips for Managing Stress

The Wall Street Journal: Angst Is Rising, but Many Must Forgo Therapy

Yahoo News: Suicides from Financial Crisis Cause Concern