This policy brief is based on research published in the paper Lund C, De
Silva M, Plagerson S, Cooper S, Chisholm D, Das J, Knapp M, Patel V
(2011) Poverty and mental disorders: breaking the cycle in low-income
and middle-income countries. Lancet (2011) 378:1502-14.
Growing international evidence shows that mental ill health and poverty
interact in a negative cycle in low-income and middle-income countries.
However, little is known about the interventions that are needed to
break this cycle.
Interventions are needed that address both the social causes of mental
illness and the disabilities and economic deprivation that are a
consequence of mental illness.
On the basis of data from two systematic reviews, we found that mental
health interventions were associated with improved economic outcomes in
all studies. Improvements in economic status thus go hand in hand with
improvements in clinical symptoms, creating a virtuous cycle of
We also found that poverty alleviation programmes can have mental health
benefits, particularly for conditional cash transfers and asset
promotion programmes. This was revealed in the case of individual
studies, and thus more studies are needed to generate more conclusive
The findings support the call to scale up mental health care and include
mental health on international development agendas.
Lund, C.; De Silva, M.; Plagerson, S.; Cooper, S.; Chisholm, D.; Das, J.; Knapp, M.; Patel, V. PRIME Policy Brief 1. Poverty and mental disorders: breaking the cycle in low-income and middle-income countries. PRIME, Rondebosch, South Africa (2012) 4 pp.
PRIME Policy Brief 1. Poverty and mental disorders: breaking the cycle in low-income and middle-income countries