Tackling poverty will boost mental health



Leading author will make the claim at a lecture as Challenge Poverty Week kicks off


Best-selling author Professor Kate Pickett will outline how inequality creates widespread health and social problems and is a factor in increased levels of stress in the general population, at a lecture held in Glasgow at the start of Challenge Poverty Week.

The lecture, held tonight (Monday) at Glasgow Caledonian University, will draw on the main themes of her latest book, The Inner Level, which argues less-equal societies perform worse than fairer ones, across everything from education to life expectancy.

Pickett, professor of epidemiology at the University of York, is the co-author of The Spirit Level, which was chosen as one of the Top 10 Books of the Decade by the New Statesman.

Professor Pickett, who has addressed the United Nations and the EU, said: “We’ve known for some time that more unequal societies suffer from a host of social ills including higher rates of crime and poor health and that this affects the whole of society, not just those living in poverty.

“But what is less discussed is how inequality gets into our heads to affect our thoughts and feelings, our ideas of success and failure, our relationships with each other, and the stress and mental illness suffered by so many of us.

“The cross-party support for the Living Wage in Scotland and the creation of a commission to tackle inequality and poverty are two examples that show Scotland can be at the forefront of the movement to create a wellbeing economy.”

The Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at GCU and the Poverty Alliance are co-hosting the event, entitled The Need For a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing.

Reducing inequality is in everyone’s interest and is everyone’s responsibility – Stephen Sinclair

Around 100 policy experts, campaigners, and academics are expected to gather for the lecture, which is one of more than 70 events and activities planned for Challenge Poverty Week, which starts today (Monday) and runs until 7 October.

Professor Stephen Sinclair, co-director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at GCU, said: “Professor Pickett has helped push the issue of the harmful effects of inequality to the forefront of government policy across the world.

“Her lecture will reinforce the message that reducing inequality is in everyone’s interest and is everyone’s responsibility – a more equal society is for the common good.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, added: “This week is an opportunity for groups and organisations across Scotland to highlight the role they play in addressing poverty, as well as building the case for more action to address the causes and consequences of poverty.”

Link to TFN article here