Social inequalities can have a significant impact on mental health outcomes. Research has consistently shown that individuals from marginalized and disadvantaged groups are more likely to experience mental health problems than those who are more privileged. This is closely linked to socioeconomic status, as people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to experience mental health problems than those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. This is due to a range of factors, where low educational attainment is probably the most important, but also health illiteracy, limited access to healthcare due to structural barriers, housing instability, and exposure to stressful environments are important factors.
Stressful environments can include lack of normal nurturing during upbringing, bullying due to poverty during school time, increased risk of violence and lack of financial resources to take higher education. Later in life, poverty might lead to debt and inability to pay for bills including bills for visits to GP’s and hospitals. In some cases, these debts might feel so self-stigmatizing resulting in lack of use of health care resources or that for example the GP are shutting you out due to lack of payments.
Lack of financial and educational resources are also important factors contributing to unhealthy lifestyles. Healthy food that we know is important also for good mental health is often more expensive that unhealthier choices. If you wish to participate in activities except for walking in the nature, that might be risky during wintertime, you need money to attend training studios. And least, but not least important is the cost of living a social life. To be social active is extremely important for mental health, but going to cinemas or cafes has been a luxury for many struggling to make ends meet.
The role of racism and discrimination should not be underestimated when it comes to mental health concerns as racism and discrimination can have a profound impact on mental health. People who experience racism or discrimination are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. This can be due to the stress of dealing with discrimination, as well as the systemic inequalities that result from it. Being poor might in many cases lead to discrimination.
Social inequality is a vicious circle of life for the underprivileged. Having a mental health problem might induce poverty due to lower productivity and poverty might induce mental health problems which in turn might lead to use of legal and illegal drugs and domestic violence which again worsen the mental health problems and leading to more poverty. We can only stop this circle by a fairer distribution of financial resources. □