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Poverty May Raise Mental Illness Risk

Study shows link between income and emotional disorders

FRIDAY, March 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The stresses of poverty may increase a person's risk for mental illness, according to a new U.S. study.

"The poorer one's socioeconomic conditions are, the higher one's risk is for mental disability and psychiatric hospitalization," researcher Christopher G. Hudson of Salem State College, in Massachusetts, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues analyzed data on 34,000 patients with a history of two or more psychiatric hospitalizations in Massachusetts from 1994 to 2000.

Reporting in the current issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, they found a correlation between risk of mental illness and unemployment, poverty and inability to afford housing.

This association held true regardless of the form of mental illness a person suffered or the kind of economic hardship they endured, Hudson said.

The findings offer strong evidence that low socioeconomic status may have a direct impact on the development of mental disorders. According to Hudson, "the study highlights the need for the continued development of preventive and early intervention strategies that pay particular attention to the devastating impacts of unemployment, economic displacement, and housing dislocation, including homelessness."

More information

The U.S. Surgeon General has more about mental illness.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, March 6, 2005
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