How does inequality affect public mental health?

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Picture from a blog on inequality written by our team - click here to read it.

WHAT ASPECTS OF LIFE DO PEOPLE FEEL COULD BE FAIRER?

HOW DO EXPEREINCES OF INEQUALITY IMPACT ON PEOPLE'S MENTAL HEALTH

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We have been researching the experience of inequality and unfairness and how these experiences relate a to mental health - a topic made even more pressing by the cost-of-living crisis in the UK. We started our work during  the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2020.

Over several months, we conducted a qualitative interview study in two London Boroughs: Harrow and Lambeth. Participants were invited to take photos and use them in an interview with a peer researcher, to reflect on the meaning and experience of inequality, unfairness and mental health.

Why has this project been important?

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There are a range of inequalities and areas of unfairness that exist in our society, and we know that many of these  have an impact public mental health. A growing number of projects and research studies are addressing the problem of inequality, but one of the knowledge gaps that remains is how people experience inequality and how it affects their mental health – from their perspectives, in their own words.

 

In this study, we have used ‘peer research’ to enhance our understanding of the factors that impact public mental health. We hope to inspire changes in policy and practice so that more members of the public are engaged in research, so as to create a view of inequality and mental health based on lived experience.

What has does the study involved so far?

 

  • Participants were invited to take up to 4 photos that capture something about what inequality, unfairness, and mental health means to them. This method is called Photo Voice. 

 

  • After two weeks, participants were invited to an interview lasting approximately 1h30 - these took place either on Zoom or in-person at a local venue. In the interview, we used the photos that people had taken to explore inequality and mental health. Each participant was given a £100 gift voucher for their time.

What's happening now?

 

We are currently in the process of analysing the interview transcripts and preparing to write up the findings of the report. 

What's happening next?

 

In the final stages of the project, we hope to invite the people who participated to discuss the findings, and/or help set priorities for policy and practice changes in a workshop.

We also hope to hold events in both Harrow and Lambeth, to showcase the photos, share findings with local policy makers, practitioners and the public.

We hope that this will inspire change to make a positive difference to people's lives over time.

Images from the project

 

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