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World Psychiatry. 2012 Oct;11(3):139-45.

Actions to alleviate the mental health impact of the economic crisis.

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  • 1Finnish Association for Mental Health, Maistraatinportti 4 A, FI-00240 Helsinki, Finland.


The current global economic crisis is expected to produce adverse mental health effects that may increase suicide and alcohol-related death rates in affected countries. In nations with greater social safety nets, the health impacts of the economic downturn may be less pronounced. Research indicates that the mental health impact of the economic crisis can be offset by various policy measures. This paper aims to outline how countries can safeguard and support mental health in times of economic downturn. It indicates that good mental health cannot be achieved by the health sector alone. The determinants of mental health often lie outside of the remits of the health system, and all sectors of society have to be involved in the promotion of mental health. Accessible and responsive primary care services support people at risk and can prevent mental health consequences. Any austerity measures imposed on mental health services need to be geared to support the modernization of mental health care provision. Social welfare supports and active labour market programmes aiming at helping people retain or re-gain jobs can counteract the mental health effects of the economic crisis. Family support programmes can also make a difference. Alcohol pricing and restrictions of alcohol availability reduce alcohol harms and save lives. Support to tackle unmanageable debt will also help to reduce the mental health impact of the crisis. While the current economic crisis may have a major impact on mental health and increase mortality due to suicides and alcohol-related disorders, it is also a window of opportunity to reform mental health care and promote a mentally healthy lifestyle.


Mental health; economic crisis; social policy; suicide prevention

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