Psychologists Against Austerity: The Psychological Impact of Austerity, A Briefing Paper: https://psychagainstausterity.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/paa-briefing-paper.pdf

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The Psychological Impact of Austerity  A Briefing Paper

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Executive Summary

This report directly links cuts to public services with mental health problems.

Well-established psychological research that explains these links already exists. However, this knowledge has been missing from the debate on austerity so far. Psychologists are often in a position to see the effects that social and economic changes have on people. We also occupy a relatively powerful position as professionals and therefore have an ethical responsibility to speak out about these effects. Key conclusions Austerity policies have damaging psychological costs. Mental health problems are being created in the present, and further problems are being stored for the future. We have identified five ‘Austerity Ailments’. These are specific ways in which austerity policies impact on mental health:

1. Humiliation and shame

2. Fear and distrust

3. Instability and insecurity

4. Isolation and loneliness

5. Being trapped and powerless

These experiences have been shown to increase mental health problems. Prolonged humiliation following a severe loss trebles the chance of being diagnosed with clinical depression. Job insecurity is as damaging for mental health as unemployment. Feeling trapped over the long term nearly trebles the chances of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Low levels of trust increase the chance of being diagnosed with depression by nearly 50 per cent. These five ‘ailments’ are indicators of problems in society, of poisonous public policy, weakness of social cohesion and inequalities in power and wealth. We also know what kind of society promotes good health. Key markers are that societies are equal, participatory and cohesive.

Some important indicators of a psychologically healthy society are:

1. Agency

2. Security

3. Connection

4. Meaning

5. Trust Mental health isn’t just an individual issue.

To create resilience and promote wellbeing, we need to look at the entirety of the social and economic conditions in which people live. Recommendations • Social policy should work towards a more equitable and participatory society, to facilitate individual wellbeing, resilient places, and strong communities. • It is crucial that policy makers and service developers consider the psychological impacts of current and future policies. • Creating the conditions for wellbeing and resilience directly helps to prevent distress in the short and long term, both saving resources and reducing suffering.

Recommendations
• Social policy should work towards a more
equitable and participatory society, to
facilitate individual wellbeing, resilient
places, and strong communities.
• It is crucial that policy makers and service
developers consider the psychological
impacts of current and future policies.
• Creating the conditions for wellbeing
and resilience directly helps to prevent
distress in the short and long term, both
saving resources and reducing suffering.

Psychologists Against Austerity Website click here

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