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Title: The evolution of mental health in the context of transitory economic changes
Authors: Stoyanova, Alexandrina
Pinilla Domínguez, Jaime 
UNESCO Clasification: 531207 Sanidad
Keywords: Desempleo
Salud mental
Issue Date: 2019
Journal: Applied Health Economics and Health Policy 
Abstract: Background: Mental health disorders are highly prevalent across countries. They increase over time and impose a severe burden on individuals and societies. Objective: This paper examines the evolution of mental health over a period of 15 years, paying special attention on the impact of the most recent economic downturn and subsequent recovery, in Spain. Method: We use data coming from the National Health Surveys of 2006/2007, 2011/2012 and 2016/2017. Mental health is proxied by two measures, doctor-diagnosed mental disorder and psychological distress (based on the 12-item General Health Questionnaire). To account for the relationship between the two mental health indicators, we estimate a bivariate probit model. The potential endogeneity of unemployment status is considered. Results: We observe different patterns of the two mental health indicators over time. Psychological distress in men increased during recession years, but slightly decreased among women. Diagnosed mental disorders declined during the peak years of the crisis. Unemployment is a major risk factor for mental distress. Irrespective of the economic conditions, belonging to a higher social class acts as a buffer against psychological distress for women, but not for men. The remaining determinants acted as expected. Women declared worse psychological health than men, and were also more often diagnosed with mental disorders. Having a partner had a protective impact, while providing intensive care to a dependent relative exerted the opposite effect. Education acted as buffer against the onset of psychological distress in women. Conclusion: Even though the need for mental healthcare increased during the recession, the fact that fewer people were diagnosed suggests that barriers to accessing mental healthcare may be aggravated during the crisis. Policies aiming to tackle the challenges posed by the high prevalence of mental disorders have to be particularly attentive to changes in individuals’ socioeconomic situation, including education, unemployment and social class.
ISSN: 1175-5652
DOI: 10.1007/s40258-019-00537-9
Source: Applied Health Economics And Health Policy [ISSN 1175-5652], v. 18, p. 203–221
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