The Psychological Impact of Austerity: A Briefing Paper
Mcgrath, L., Griffin, V., Mundy, E., Curno, T., Weerasinghe, D. and Zlotowitz, S. 2016. The Psychological Impact of Austerity: A Briefing Paper. Educational Psychology Research and Practice. 2 (2), p. 46–57. https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.885xw
|Authors||Mcgrath, L., Griffin, V., Mundy, E., Curno, T., Weerasinghe, D. and Zlotowitz, S.|
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.
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
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:
Mental health is not 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.
Social policy should work towards a more equitable and participatory society, to facilitate individual wellbeing, resilient places and strong communities.
|Journal||Educational Psychology Research and Practice|
|Journal citation||2 (2), p. 46–57|
|Publisher||School of Psychology, University of East London|
File Access Level
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.885xw|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||14 Sep 2020|
|Copyright holder||© 2016 The Authors|
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