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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Stigma Makes Poverty Worse for Mentally Ill in India

The stigma surrounding people with severe mental illness in India leads to increased poverty among them, especially women, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.


[Photo: Dr. Jean-Francois Trani]

Researchers studied more than 1,000 patients and controls in the mental health department of a hospital in New Delhi from 2011-2012, conducting interviews during hospital visits and at homes.

They found that public stigma and poverty linked to mental illness were “pervasive and intertwined,” according to a paper by Dr. Jean-Francois Trani, assistant professor at the Brown School. Assumptions by many that mentally ill people are violent and unable to work contribute to their unemployment.

Stigma associated with mental illness limits women from fulfilling family and social roles, increasing discrimination against them, the study found.

“Mental health professionals must incorporate an understanding of multidimensional poverty stressors as well as address family and community dynamics,” Dr. Trani wrote. “Our findings go beyond medical and public health and link mental health to international development.”

The study was published in The BMJ Open.

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