Study finds, Least wealthy more likely to have mental health disorder

Helsinki: According to a study available in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, those with less affluent upbringings are far more likely to experience mental health issues later in life.

In addition, a Finnish study found that 22 years after their 30th birthday, more than half of people with low educational attainment will receive a mental illness diagnosis.

Previous studies have found a connection between socioeconomic status and the prevalence of mental illnesses, but seldom have the importance of different socioeconomic status markers been evaluated.

More than 1.2 million people who lived in Finland at the age of 30 and were born between 1966 and 1986 were the subject of an analysis by a team of researchers from Finland using official national data.

They set out to look into the relationship between socioeconomic status at age 30 and the chance of developing the four most prevalent major mental illnesses: substance abuse, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.
They employed three register-based socioeconomic measures-- educational achievement, employment status, and personal total income—while additionally accounting for relevant shared family traits.

A little more than a quarter (26.1%) of the study's participants (331,657) had a mental disorder identified during the study's follow-up period, which spanned from 1996 to 2017.

Even after taking into consideration shared family traits and a prior history of a mental disease, the researchers' analysis revealed that a lower socioeconomic position at age 30 was persistently related with a higher probability of receiving a subsequent diagnosis of a mental condition.

The relationships were significantly larger when substance abuse or schizophrenia spectrum disorders were utilised as the outcome, according to analyses of specific diagnoses.

Being out of the labour force or jobless was linked to a twofold increased chance of receiving a subsequent diagnosis of a mental disease when compared to persons who were employed, the researchers found.

Additionally, they discovered that by the age of 52, 58% of those who had poor educational attainment at the age of 30 had received a diagnosis of a mental disease, as opposed to 45% and 36% of those who had finished secondary or higher education, respectively.
Since this study was an observational one, causality cannot be determined.

The study also had some limitations, including the fact that the registers only began to cover long-term sickness absences and primary care starting in 2005 and 2011, respectively. As a result, it is likely that mental disorders of people with milder symptoms who were only treated by a GP before the year 2005 or who did not seek help from any type of healthcare service for their mental disorders were omitted from the study.

The study's strengths included the use of a nationwide study population with full follow-up, a sibling design, and data from both secondary and primary care psychiatric registers.

"These findings suggest that the burden of mental disorders is significantly higher among persons with low socioeconomic position, and policies enhancing social mobility or providing more preventive measures to persons with low socioeconomic position could mitigate the disease burden of mental disorders in the society," the researchers wrote in their study's conclusion.

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