Austerity kills is the message of a study published by the ‘British Medical Journal’
Austerity measures could mean the dismantling of a large part of the Spanish health system and significantly damage the health of the population, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal on Thursday.
The authors of the report warn that if the trend does not change, there is a risk that Spain will experience a spiral of health problems that could mean an increase in infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
One part of the research consisted of interviewing 34 doctors and nurses in Catalonia. The majority said they felt “shocked, numbed and disillusioned” about the cuts, and some expressed fears that the austerity measures would “kill people,” the researchers said.
The report highlighted that healthcare and social services cuts of almost 14 percent at the national level and of 10 percent at the regional level in 2012 had coincided with an increase in demand for care, especially on the part of senior citizens, the disabled and the mentally ill.
Researchers also identified an increase in cases of depression, alcoholism-related diseases and suicides in Spain since the crisis began.
“If no corrective measures are implemented, this could worsen with the risk of increases in HIV and tuberculosis, as we have seen in Greece, where healthcare services have had severe cuts, as well as the risk of a rise in drug resistance and spread of disease,” said Helena Legido-Quigley, a lecturer in global health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who worked on the study.
THE threat of unemployment since the recession has led to a decline in men’s mental health, a study suggests.
The authors, who wanted to examine whether the recession had an impact on levels of anxiety and depression, analysed data concerning 107,000 people taken from the annual Health Survey for England for adults aged 25 to 64, between 1991 and 2010.
Their findings, published in the online journal BMJ Open, show that rates of poor mental health were highest between 1991 and 1993, when the UK was in recession, after which they fell steadily until 2004.
The rates then started to gradually rise until 2008, at which point they rose sharply.
In 2008, when the downturn began, the prevalence of people suffering from anxiety and depression was 13.7%, but the figure rose to 16.4% in 2009 and fell to 15.5% in 2010.
Men appeared to be worst affected. The rate of poor mental health in men rose from 11.3% in 2008 to 16.6% in 2009. In women, the rate only increased by 0.2%, to 16.2%.
The authors concluded: “The finding that mental health across the general population has deteriorated following the recession’s onset, and (that) this association does not appear to be limited to those out of employment nor those whose household income has declined, has important implications.
“Previous research has highlighted the importance of job insecurity, rather than solely employment status, as potentially resulting in adverse effects on mental health.
“One potential explanation for our results would be that job insecurity during the current recession is responsible for the deterioration in mental health, with men’s psychological health remaining more affected by economic fluctuations despite greater female labour market participation.”
Justine Schneider, professor of mental health and social care at the University of Nottingham, said: “It’s long been recognised that the impact on mental health of job insecurity is worse than that of joblessness, these recent analyses confirm that the threat of unemployment is in itself harmful.
“When people lose their jobs they react in different ways; some people thrive and this offsets the average impact. Young people however are particularly badly affected by unemployment, which seems to reduce their self-esteem and increase the risk of depression.”
Dr Amy Chandler, research fellow at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This new analysis provides further support to theories that suggest that men – more than women – might be affected negatively by unstable job markets and rising prices.
“An interesting addition to current knowledge is the authors’ finding that this decline in mental health was also apparent among men who were employed, whereas previously much has been made of the association between unemployment and poor mental health among men.
“This suggests that there should be acknowledgement that recession can impact negatively upon men in general, whether in employment or not.”
– Ella Pickover