Benefits of economic recovery yet to trickle down to deprived areas, new report reveals

The benefits of the economic recovery have yet to trickle down to many deprived areas and improve the mental health of the least well off, it emerged today.

A new report on Tallaght – the sprawling suburb in south west Dublin-  has found 66pc of people in deprived  housing estates experienced stress over the last 12 months.

This compared to 55pc in the better off estates.

The report ‘Physical and Mental Health in Post-Recession Ireland: A Community Study from Tallaght, Dublin’ was commissioned by the Meath Foundation and presented at the annual Meath Research Symposium at Tallaght University Hospital today.

Consultant Psychiatrist at Tallaght, Prof Brendan Kelly, said it is evident that despite several years of economic recovery, its benefits have yet to be felt in deprived areas of Tallaght.

“The economic recovery has done little to improve mental health here and this is taking its toll on those in greatest need.

“For example – it impacts two thirds of the population living in the deprived communities of Tallaght where people have less education, don’t own health insurance and are more likely to be living with the burden of a person with a chronic illness or disability.

“There is a clear case for strengthening community and hospital mental health services and for other social care interventions to address the very real challenges these most vulnerable communities endure in their everyday lives.”

The report found increased levels of public satisfaction with the services at Tallaght University Hospital but that a lack of mental health services is leading to higher stress and psychological ill health particularly in deprived areas.

Of the households surveyed 52pc included at least one person who had used Tallaght University Hospital for tests or treatment over the past year. The vast majority (86pc) were satisfied with the Hospital compared to 74pc in 2014.

In their conclusions, the report authors say there is a compelling need for universal access to high quality mental health services in primary care (GP) and secondary care (hospital and specialist clinics) in all communities.

It also recommends the development of health and social policies aimed at increasing population wellbeing and which focus on alleviating stress and carer burden, especially in deprived areas.

It also calls for future research into other potential contributory factors such as drug misuse as well as the positive role of community resources in supporting wellbeing and improving population health.

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