Economic crises such as the one Europe has been going through since late 2007 have a considerable impact on the society as a whole. Sky-rocking unemployment, the use and abuse of unhealthy substances, and mental illnesses are just some of the areas EPHA looked at in its just-released "Report on the impact of the crisis on the population mental health".
“The economic crisis should not turn into a health crisis”, John Dalli, ex EU Commissioner in charge of health and consumer protection.
While the effects of today’s unstable economic context on people’s mental health and well-being tend to be long-term, a host of consequences has already been observed. A society where the media regularly display information about rising unemployment, poverty, social insecurity, and people’s discontent, does not provide the conditions necessary to optimise personal and professional development, self-esteem and accomplishment.
Among other social impacts, existing widespread budget cuts are leading to an increasing prevalence in psychiatric illness, including depression as well as an soaring number of suicides. Alcohol consumption and alcohol-abused disorders as well as illicit drug use are also on the rise. It not only has consequences on the end users, but on their family, friends, colleagues, and communities.
At the same time, health services including mental health services are being shrunk as part of governments’ austerity programs. Budget cuts affect psychiatric services adversely just when the dire economic situation vastly raises the levels of need and demand.
Unemployment and employment conditions, psychiatric illness, the use and abuse of unhealthy substances, and intentional violence are just a few areas made worse by the current economic climate and thus contributed to worsening the population mental health and well-being.
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