In Spain, there are an average of 10 suicides per day. One takes place every two and a half hours. There were 3,671 in 2019, according to the National Statistics Institute. In 2008 suicides outweighed traffic accidents as the leading cause of death. Now they double them. As if that weren’t enough, the pandemic has shaken the mental health of the population and increased self-harm and suicide attempts among the youth.
Spain is the only country in its environment that does not have a national suicide prevention plan. There are 9.8 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to an average of 17.2 in the EU and the UK; and 16.2 clinical psychologists versus 29.9. Much remains to be done.
There is a two-way causal relationship between poverty and mental health problems. In an article by Harvard and MIT researchers Poverty, Depression, and Anxiety: Causal Evidence and Mechanisms, published in the journal Science in December 2020, the authors show that people on lower incomes typically have 1.5 to 3 times more chances than the rich to suffer from depression or anxiety. In turn, mental illness worsens people’s economic situation, reduces employment and therefore the income of families.
In a study on basic income and mental health, Merlina Del Giudice empirically checks the relationship between social determinants and mental health and income guarantee systems, looking for common patterns in the results of the 2 pilot tests analyzed, lead in Barcelona and Finland.
The results of the two pilot projects make it possible to partially visualize the positive effects that an income guarantee system would have on the mental health of citizens. People who receive a basic income increase overall satisfaction with life by 27%, are 9.8% less likely to develop mental illness, and experience 9.7% less sense of sadness. The study concludes that basic income would help strengthen public health, as it would reduce mental health problems and act as a preventative measure while mitigating socioeconomic problems without stigmatizing their beneficiaries.
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