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How A Person's Income Is Related To Mental Health And Depression

  • Category: Law
  • Topic: Prison Violence
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 978
  • Published: 12 March 2019
  • Downloads: 55
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Using a specified set of data that was given to me, I set out to attempt to discover what link, if any, exists between an individuals income and problems with depression and mental health. I wanted to figure out if wealth affected whether an individual had ever battled with depression at some point in their lives, but also look at those currently suffering with depression and if income affects their daily mood and mental health. Although it is often ignored, mental health is an important aspect of an individuals overall health and is therefore an important topic when it comes to health economics. Through my research, I found that income is significantly related to depression. Many forms of mental illness, including depression and schizophrenia are ore prominent among individuals who have received less education and are generally poorer (Mezuk). Although the exact cause of major depression is unknown, Mezuk’s article states that exposure to stress and adversity are possible risk factors. In his article on the link between severe mental illness and income inequality, Pickett states that the two are indeed related. He suggests that there is more to the issue than just income level. Individuals with lower incomes tend to experience worse physical health, higher obesity rates, more teenage pregnancies, lower educational attainment and upward mobility, and higher levels of both violence and prison. These issues most likely induce higher levels of stress which could explain the higher levels of depression and mental illness among this population. According to Kern’s article, adverse childhood experiences are more common for lower income children which negatively effects both their physical and mental health. Children below the poverty line are also much more likely to experience adverse childhood experiences. The higher rate of adverse childhood experiences in lower income children could help explain the link between income and mental health. Another possible explanation is the fact that many low income individuals with mental health problems do not receive treatment due to inaccessibility or lack of funds even though its been proven that they respond well to treatment (Santiago). Poverty also leads to an increased risk of psychological problem. Could the obstacle of money explain why low income individuals don’t get the care they need and subseq2uently continue to suffer with mental issues instead of getting better? It could help explain why their mental health is poorer than higher income individuals – they simply don’t receive treatment as often. An article by Sorhagen suggested that relative income matters when it comes to mental health. If your income is lower relative to your surrounding area, this n lead to feelings of social dissatisfaction and low levels of belongingness which increases depression and other mental health problems.


The data set I used to conduct my research consisted of a large number of different health-related statistics about each person that participated in the study. The ones that I used were income level, whether or not the person has ever struggled with depression, and out of those individuals who had struggled with depression about how many days a month they don’t feel that they are in good mental health. To get the average number of days that each income level group struggled with mental health issues each month, I first found the total number of individuals who struggled from depression in each income category, and totaled up the number of days for that category. I think divided the total number of days by the total number of individuals in that income group to get the average number of days. In order to calculate the percentage of each income group that made up the totality of all the individuals who indicated that they had suffered from depression at one point in time, I calculated the percentage of the total population in this study that a specific income group made up, and adjusted the percentages based off of the percent of the total population to get the income data on the individuals who suffered from depression.


Overall, my findings were supported by articles that I read on the subject. I found that depression occurs more commonly and more severely in lower income individuals. Looking at Figure 2, you can see that as income increases, the percentage of individuals who suffer from depression gradually decreases. This suggests that wealthier individuals are better off when it comes to mental health. Figure 1 shows the makeup of the population of those individuals who have suffered from depression. Those with the lowest incomes, less than $10,000 per year, make up the largest section of the pie chart, indicating that this group struggles more with depression and mental health issues than higher income groups. Table 1 shows the average number of days in a month that each income group has struggled with mental health. Individuals who make less than $10,000 a year feel that for over half the days in a month, they are not in good mental health.

Through my own research and through articles that I read, its safe to conclude that there is a clear negative correlation between income and depression and mental health problems. Although the reasoning isn’t clear, it could have to do with the fact that income affects a lot of other aspects of someone’s life, like their exposure to stress and adversity. Someone living below the poverty line probably would not have the funds to get treatment for their mental health problems. Mental health is important to talk think about when considering the economics of healthcare because it is not a singular problem, in low income individuals it is often accompanied by lack of treatment, higher stress levels, more exposure to violence, and less upward mobility. To solve the issue of the unequal distribution of depression in lower income individuals, we must find the cause behind the issue.

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