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If we want to improve mental health, first we need to tackle poverty | Dawn Foster

May 2nd, 2017 by

Prince Harry’s intervention on mental health is welcome, but removing stigma alone is not enough – the debate needs to look at the role of poverty

Mental health discourse welcomed an unexpected participant this month. Prince Harry, the fifth in line to the throne, spoke publicly about seeking counselling following his mother’s sudden death in his pre-teen years. Rightly, mental health charities praised his intervention, highlighting as it did that even extreme privilege cannot shelter us from depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric illness. Our bodies are fragile, and our minds equally so: this message is increasingly accepted as people with mental health problems, campaigners and medics alike have fought to end stigma by building a national conversation on mental health.

Removing the stigma around mental health is important but does little alone. Without services, treatment is still inadequate, and feeling less judged for your health issues means little if you’re faced with a lack of access to talking therapies and nonexistent community support. But the conversation on mental health also needs to examine how the structures of society cause and perpetuate poor mental health.

Related: On mental health, the royal family is doing more than our government | William Davies

Failing to address childhood mental health linked to poverty is like scrimping on a car repair only to crash into a wall

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