Does Poverty cause Mental Illness? Or Does Mental Illness cause Poverty?


The relationship between poverty and mental illness is a very interesting one. While the most common belief is that poverty causes mental illness, but both are true. There are many ways people can argue for either side of this issue. Researchers only began to look at this issue about 25 years ago. Overall, I think no matter which one is the cause of the other, something needs to be done to help solve this problem.

Researchers found that people that live in poverty are at more of a risk of developing a mental illness.This is mostly because of their living situations. Also, it was found that people living in poverty tend to have a problems with their mental illness for a longer period of time compared those who don’t have economic problems.  Poverty has an impact on multiple domains of a persons life including basic needs, family, social relations, leisure, and self-esteem. Once one of those issues causes a major problem it becomes very easy for a person to develop some type of illness. When people start to have trouble paying the bill or being able to buy food, that person is more likely to develop anxiety because they aren’t able to provide basic needs for themselves or their family. And if they lose their job and end up spending a lot of time in there in the house there’s a chance this person will become depressed. Stress is a leading factor in how poverty causes mental illness as you can see in the examples above. Also, poorer people usually do not live in the safest communities, so the tension caused by worrying about keeping yourself and family safe is likely to cause mental illnesses.


On the other side of things, mental illness has a way of leading people to poverty because of the disability, stigma, and cost of health care they need. The more severe illnesses like schizophrenia are more likely to cause a person to become poor compared to depression or anxiety. People with SMI ( Severe Mental Illness) have a harder time holding a job and then that leads to no income. Also, they become socially-isolated because they can not hold friendships anymore because of the stigma surrounded by the disease. One of the problems is once a person becomes poor they don’t have the money to pay for the help they need. This just causes an ongoing cycle as shown in the picture above.

There are many things that can be done to stop the mentally ill from becoming poor and the poor from developing a mental illness. I think the first step to solving this problem is creating some type of free mental help. If people could get the service they need for free then they could keep the money they would spend and possibly keep their job. For the poor, I think the government should provide a better welfare system so these poorer people can get out of poverty and never encounter mental health issues.



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