Breaking a Myth: Is Mental Health A Conversation For The Elite?

Mental health is more of an intersectional conversation than you might think. Read on to see how.

Mental health is more of an intersectional conversation than you might think. Read on to see how.

“Talking about mental disorders means talking about poverty: the two are linked in a vicious circle”

(Source: Investing in mental health, WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, 2003)

Several myths float regarding mental health and related issues almost every day.

One of them that I hear is: “Mental health talk is so overhyped by the higher income strata of society. I see so many poor people or middle-class people every day; they struggle so much in life but never complain of any such depression. Mental health is nothing but a luxurious talk!”

But let me tell you something: It’s a BIG MISCONCEPTION. It is just unawareness about the facts. If you do some background research, the World Health Organization has numerous data where they have shown mental disorder is not only prevalent where there is poverty, rather they both form a vicious circle.

So how they both are linked?

Firstly how mental disorder contributes to poverty?

As mental health disorders contribute pretty much in generating high costs for long periods of treatment and productivity gone off track, it can be stated that such disorders majorly give rise to poverty.

How poverty contributes to mental disorders?

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

There are empirical pieces of evidence supporting the statistics where it has been seen, that depression is more prevalent among the low-income population. The factors like malnutrition, low educational levels, insecurity, no proper housing facility, and many more together have been identified as major contributors to common mental disorders.

Poverty thus can be taken as a contributor to mental disorders and vice versa, quite significantly.

Source: Investing in mental health, WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, 2003

As you see in the above diagram, they form a vicious cycle affecting an individual as well as society in various segments.

Let’s see which areas this vicious cycle is prevalent and how is it affecting it:


Several research studies have proven that the prevalence of common mental disorders has a significant relationship with low levels of education (Patel & Kleinman, 2003).

Low education levels keep an individual away from the access to well-paid jobs, creates feeling of insecurity, and makes it more vulnerable to illness. With persistent low capital, they get stuck in the vicious circle of poverty.


The ones who lose their jobs tend to get depressed twice more than those who have managed to retain their jobs (Dooley & al., 1994).

Besides that, people who are unemployed tend to get higher depression levels compared to those who are employed (Bolton & Oakley, 1987; Kessler & al., 1989; Simon & al., 2000).

Violence and trauma

The poverty, trauma, and violence make people vulnerable to induced mental disorders aggravating them further, and creating the never-ending negative cycle.

So, the Solution?

This negative vicious circle of poverty and mental disorders can be broken only with well-planned and structured investments.

Image Courtesy: Lily Padula, National Public Radio


About the Author

Sukanya Majumdar

PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELLOR FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS. MA PSYCHOLOGY, Diploma in Community Mental Health, NIMHANS Former Forensic Psychologist Intern. Former content writer. Double Masters in Computer Applications & in Psychology. B.A in Hindustani Classical Music. read more...

13 Posts | 36,533 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories