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Social class and mental health: The impact of international recession and austerity 

Social class and mental health: The impact of international recession and austerity
Chapter:
Social class and mental health: The impact of international recession and austerity
Author(s):

M. Harvey Brenner

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198792994.003.0018
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date: 24 September 2021

The Great Depression saw increasingly higher rates of mental disorder at successively lower social class levels. These findings have been repeated over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Dynamic interpretations of these relations have concentrated on vulnerability to economic crises, resulting in major increases in mental hospitalization and suicide. These studies have shown psychological morbidity and suicide to be strongly influenced by employment and income loss. Did the Great Recession re-enact the Great Depression’s mental health crisis for world societies? Recent literature shows substantially elevated psychological disorder in the Great Recession across industrialized societies. New multivariate analyses, using gross domestic product declines and unemployment increases as the main recessional indicators, find that world suicide and industrialized country overall mortality rates increased owing to the Great Recession and government austerity. A paradigm is presented of the circular relations linking economic crises, social class, and the interactive relations of mental and physical health.

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