Poverty and Mental Illness
Objective: To assess the relationship between poverty and mental illness in order to stimulate debate on future international cooperation programs in mental health.
Method: Epidemiological data in the international literature addressing the issue of material poverty as a risk factor for the development of mental illness and as a prognostic factor for the outcome of mental illness were reviewed.
Results: The international literature reviewed supports the notion that material poverty is a risk factor for a negative outcome among mentally ill people. In addition, preliminary epidemiological data suggest that service-related variables may be determinants of outcome of mental illnesses. In our view, cooperation with developing countries is a great opportunity to evaluate mental health services in a natural setting.
Conclusions: A new generation of programs for international cooperation in mental health is needed, in which knowledge and technology transfer is based on a service-research attitude. Attention should be focused on variables related to the poverty of services that might be linked to the course and outcome of mental illnesses. (Authors)
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