Mental health conditions negatively affect social and economic opportunity

October 18, 2013 by Brittaney Jewel Bethea, Washington University in St. Louis

A recent study revealed that adults in the City of St. Louis spend an average of 4.5 days a month in poor mental health, with St. Louis County not lagging far behind, at an average of 3 days a month.

It's an issue tackled head-on in the latest policy brief of a landmark study. The brief, "How Can We Improve Mental Health in St. Louis? Invest in Our Community and Raise Awareness," finds that mental health limits people's social and economic opportunities and that there are stark racial differences in mental health outcomes and treatment in the St. Louis region.

The brief, written by Darrell L. Hudson, PhD, assistant professor in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, is the third of five from a multidisciplinary study called "For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis."

"Mental health affects people's social and economic opportunities, and in turn, social and economic opportunity affects mental health," Hudson said. "For example, people dealing with mental health challenges are less likely to complete school, and low educational achievement is strongly associated with lower earnings.

"Low earnings and unemployment affect people's ability to seek and to afford treatment for mental health," he said.

The brief recommends several areas where mental health in St. Louis can be improved:

  • Improve awareness efforts to tackle stigma and misinformation around mental health.
  • Improve screening by encouraging medical providers to identify patients earlier and coordinate these services at homeless shelters and food pantries.
  • Invest in community mental health centers in areas where there is the most mental health need.
  • Establish a system for tracking patient mental health treatment and rates of new mental .
  • Improve the accessibility of publicly available mental health data.
  • Develop a public reporting system with standard definitions of mental health conditions.

Hudson said that a combined effort between the government and the private sector is necessary to invest in community mental health centers.

"There are many mental health foundations that are working to raise awareness of mental health conditions and reduce stigma," Hudson said, "so building collaborations with those types of organizations would be helpful as well."

He also encourages the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), modeled after integrated systems such as Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, to help improve the tracking and reporting of mental health conditions in St. Louis.

Nationwide, there is an annual cost of $193.2 billion in lost earnings due to mental health conditions, not including the many hidden and indirect costs associated with .

"Preventing acute in St. Louis could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in hospital charges alone," Hudson said. "Improving the of African Americans in St. Louis city and county is one important way to improve the health, safety and economy of the entire region."

Explore further: Depression and mental health services usage

More information: forthesakeofall.org/

Related Stories

Depression and mental health services usage

September 30, 2013
More than half the people in Ontario who reported they had major depression did not use physician-based mental health services in the following year, a new study has found.

Debt linked to mental health problems

September 26, 2013
New research, led by the University of Southampton, has shown that people in debt are three times more likely to have a mental health problem than those not in debt.

California's new mental health system helps people live independently

October 2, 2013
A new analysis by Oregon State University researchers of California's mental health system finds that comprehensive, community-based mental health programs are helping people with serious mental illness transition to independent ...

Study on health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis releases first policy brief

August 28, 2013
The first of five policy briefs—the hallmark of an ongoing, multi-disciplinary study titled "For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis"—has been released to coincide ...

Does the ambulance service need more training in mental health issues?

August 1, 2013
Ruth Elliot, Senior Lecturer in the department of Mental Health and Learning Disability at the University of Huddersfield, has published an article discussing the need for a national 'Mental Health Pathway' to enable paramedics ...

Recommended for you

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.