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This literature review will be looking into how Social class inequality has effects on mental health. Mental health plays a major role in society today and studies have shown that it has different factors and falls into many categories, which changes a person’s behaviour drastically. It is said that social class and poverty has a profound impact in who mental health affects, as a household with low income are more prone to mental health issues, substance abuse, anxiety, physical abuse and suicide attempts. Studies have shown that children who fall under the poverty line, who are coming from poor family backgrounds are affected in a major way. This has effects on their education, behavioural skills, social interaction and their diet, as they are not getting the nutrients that are needed to maintain a healthy body and mind. This has a negative impact on their cognitive skills and physical health from a young age. Crime rates are high amongst those that are coming from poor or low-income families and homelessness is more predominant in the UK within the poorer community.

Social class and poverty

In an article ‘In bridging the gaps’, The world health organization (1995) have said extreme poverty “is the world’s most ruthless killer and the main cause of suffering”. Poverty in the UK can cause stress for people with poor health, low income and a less than average educational skill set. Lower income families do not have control over financial problems that they face, E.g. bills, shopping, debts, holidays, school fees, big purchases or just an everyday spend. This can start to affect a person or a family household mentally, where they are inclined to think about their financial struggle and try to think of ways to make things work with little or no income. This can often and more likely result in members of the lower-class population turning to substance abuse as the lack of financial stability is unbearable and try to find a way to forget their problems through drug use, whereas another set of the lower-class population may turn to alcohol, crime, prostitution or suicide affecting each person differently, mentally and physically.

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Social inequality

In this article on Poverty and social inequality, according to (Smith et al, 1990) the gulf between the poor and rich of the world is widening. Society will have the working-class families in full-time jobs, however, on a minimum wage who are paying for childcare fees, full rent, council tax and regular household bills and who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. There are many jobs that do not offer enough promotional opportunities, sick pay, bonuses or pay increases that would make a difference to wages. Wilkinson (1997) believed that the income inequality produces psychosocial stress, which leads to deteriorating health and higher mortality over time. This could be that Job opportunities may become less available for those lower income families who have a lack of education and are not able to meet specific job requirements, leading them to be on a minimum waged job or unemployed.

Written in an article in the guardian (Dean Burnett 2016), the report by Lord Richard Layard suggests that addressing an individual’s illness before their financial or social class is more effective, though many would argue that the two are linked. This article states that there were disagreements with this suggestion and many who work in the mental health sector were infuriated by this. According to this, Lord Richard Layard’s report has not linked poverty and mental health in unison but has singled out the two major factors as separate issues and has also suggested that the mental state of an individual has a much larger effect on their happiness than their financial status.

Social class and personality disorders

According to this Journal, The interaction between impulsivity and neighbourhood on criminal activities indicates that the effects of impulsivity are stronger in poorer neighbourhoods than in better-off ones (Lyam et al, 2000). Based on crime rates around the UK, statistics shows that it is relatively high with a large percentage of it consisting with drug dealing. The United Kingdom country drug report for 2019 gives an overview on drug use, the supply of drugs and drug related health issues. This report shows that drug law offences for 2019 were 106,862. For many that may have grown up and in a low income or a poor family background believe that the fastest way to get a substantial amount of money is to sell drugs, with this ultimately leading them to have a different mentally from those in society who grew up in an upper class family. They will now see this as a way of life and being their only option, the only solution to their family’s hardship. This lifestyle can often lead to Gang crime, Burglary, theft and imprisonment.

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