High Incidence of Clinical Depression Among City’s Poor is Closely Linked to their High Rate of Poverty, Finds New Report

August 2004 / Salutes / Health and Human Services

What if you could help end poverty by treating depression?

This report makes the case that clinical depression and poverty are closely linked, and together have created a public health crisis. With a grant from The Abell Foundation, the Mental Health Policy Institute for Leadership and Training surveyed the current literature on depression and poverty and documented the effects of these intertwined problems: a life of poverty, an inability to work productively, and high rates of HIV, substance abuse, and other illnesses. Yet, the report also reveals, very few of the poor who suffer from depression are in treatment. The reasons for this failure include apathy among those afflicted that is attributable to
the disease itself; stigma associated with mental health treatment; and failure to recognize and understand the disease — all exacerbated by a lack of access to mental health services. The challenge to the community is to identify those who suffer from depression and link them to easily accessible services.