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Economic crisis and mental health

Uutela, Antti

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: March 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 127–130
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328336657d
Behavioural medicine: Edited by Mohan Isaac

Purpose of review Literature from the past year was examined to learn whether economic recessions have an effect on mental disorders including depression and suicides.

Recent findings Economic recessions and crises have a context-dependent negative impact on mental health disorders. These appear in low-income and middle-income countries whereas some affluent countries are offering provisions that help unemployed persons to escape the detrimental consequences.

Summary The Asian economic crisis led to a sharp unemployment-related increase in suicide mortality in east Asian countries. In European Union countries rising unemployment was associated with significant short-term increases in premature deaths from intentional violence including suicides. It seems that active labour market programmes existing in some Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries can prevent some adverse health effects of economic downturns. As mental health consequences of economic crises are context dependent, the current situation needs monitoring. Enough services for those in need should be provided and advocacy for societal support measures is of great importance.

National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence to Dr Antti Uutela, Research Professor, Department Director, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department for Lifestyle and Participation, PO Box 30, FI-00271 Helsinki, Finland Tel: +358 20 8618; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.