Ensuring the population is mentally healthy, is a key government aim, however within low-income communities, use of antidepressant medication is relatively high. Current strategies tend to frame mental distress as an individual psychological problem, rather than addressing the factors that are often the root causes of suffering. The DE-STRESS project aims to examine how moralising narratives relating to individual responsibility and welfare entitlements influence the medicalisation of mental distress caused by material deprivation and social disadvantage.
In particular the project will look at why and how people’s ability to cope with poverty-related issues has become increasingly pathologised, the impact of high level antidepressant prescribing on the health and wellbeing of low-income communities, and also identify good practices and alternative responses to mental distress.
The research programme is intended to have strong and distinctive impacts in policy and user communities. For example, developing guidelines on good practice for health professionals working in low-income communities, feeding findings into local health plans, disseminating to clinical commissioning groups, policy forums, civil society organisations and other low-income communities.