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Jul 6 2014

Where you live can make, and keep, you ill

The economic and financial think tank Centre Forum have produced a hugely compelling but frankly shocking atlas of mental health variation to demonstrate the differences in the mental well-being of people across England. It exposes how people’s mental health problems are likely to be both caused by, and exacerbated by social, cultural and environmental factors outside of individual control. So with research showing that factors such as poverty, poor educational attainment, unemployment and early parenthood can significantly affect the risk of developing a mental health problem it is imperative that society has to recognise, and take action to tackle the huge social inequalities that have such a bearing on people’s well-being. It isn’t right that just because someone grows up in South Tyneside that you are three times more likely to be unhappy compared to someone living in Cheshire East. Particularly, as where you live can also impact so significantly on your chances of gaining access to accessible, timely and quality services. Such that people in Brighton and Hove are five times more likely to access NHS adult or elderly mental health services that people in Shropshire. So not only might you be more likely to get ill, you might also have to stay ill for longer because of where you live. With an election fast looming is it too unrealistic to hope that there will be a true demonstration of political will to tackle the massive health inequalities our country faces.