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Social Disadvantage

Social Disadvantage and Mental Illness

Nowadays, people are claiming to be extremely stressed, depressed, and in in some cases alienated within the society Accoding to various studies, modern society is overwhelmed with social media, hi-tech gadgets, and Internet leaving no space for direct communication. It became the main reason of sharp decline in social connectedness over the last twenty years. With people becoming more isolated, those who have certain social dsadvantages are left behind the societal events. According to Ilardi (2009), around 25% of modern Americans have no meaningful social support at all. There are a lot of people suffering from complete alientation within the society who are sending the majority of their time in complete loneliness. The researchers claim that there is a negative correlation between the high level of mental instability and low level of social support.

In the world tending to globalization the differences between people are sharpening within the society. The scholars are reporting that in the modern world the social ties are melting due to the intense rhythm of life, changing the norms of private life, and decreasing of social ties. Specialists call social isolation a modern plague as this phenomenon becomes more wide-spread among contemporary people. Modern research connect social disadvantage and isolation from to the increasing number of mental illnesses. Hartwell (2008) report that the last reserch explain this correlation by production of myelin within human body caused by social isolation. Myelim is a protective nerve fibre that contribute to development of mental illness. According to the researcher, myelim acts as isolating material near the nerve cells. Production of this fiber is controlled by nerve cells, but it is lost in the course of serious mental illnesses. Abnormal production of myelim is linked to such conditions as schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, and depression. The scholar points to numerous experiments conducted with the mice that indicated that myelim is connected to the development of mental instability. However, the scholars admited that the changes were reversable, when the mice were put back in the positive social conditions, the production of myelim normalized (Hartwell, 2009). The researcher emphasizes that further isolation from the society brings even more radical changes in the health of disadvantaged individuals.

Despite the physical changes within the body of an individual, social disadvantages are multiplying with the aquired mental condition. Morgan & Burns et al. (2014) state that social disadvantage is both the reason of mental conditions and its consequence. The researchers report that mental illness is intrinsically social and influence in all spheres of an individual’s functioning. The growing number of studies in social exclusion points to the fact that the phenomenon is spreading faster each year. The scholars adnit that the quantity of people suffering from isolation and the number of certain mental disorders grow increasingly fast, especially among those who initially belonged to socially disadvantaged groups.

Social disadvantage leads to alienation from the job market, and as the result, such people begin to feel incredibly depressed and lost within the modern conditions. In the society where social and economic success play one of the most important roles in the society, social isolation is a disadvantage causing a severe mental pain for an individual. One of the reasons causing social inequalities is the unequal distribution of wealth. After the economic downturn people still did not recover from the difficulties of those days still being afraid of the possible financial instability. Nevertheless, the research conducted by Kwok (2008) among a number of UK households indicated that such social disadvantage as poverty cause the increasing frequency of mental instablity and development of serious conditions. The scholar emphasize that poverty cause the increasing number of suicides, suicide attempts, self harm, and severe depressions. “Statistics found a strong link between low household incomes and mental health problems and reported that in households with a weekly income of £100 or less, 16% of children had mental health problems compared to 5.3% in homes with £700 a week or more” (Kwok, 2008). As one may see, social isolation is not the only disadvantage causing the development of mental instability.

Overall, the researchers are reporting that the economic gap is widenning nowadays casing the elimination of middle class while increasing the number of lower layer of the society. The enhamcement of number of people who suffer from poverty and other economic disadvantages triggering the increase of mental instability among the society. According to the specialists, consumer society cannot protect childrem from material oppresion existing within it. Obsession with material things, as cloths, hi-tech gadgets, luxury goods play an important role in the designation of certain societal status. Children from low income families usually feel extremely disadvantaged and thrown to the lower level of society. What is more important, stigmatization within the society regarding the social and economic level is increasing each year. Social inequalities create certain pressure among the disadvantaged leading to severe depressions and disturbing mental states.

One of the most disturbing fact in this correlation is that the phenomenon can be observed within the economically developed societies. The scheme where social disadvantages tie to the mental disorders is prevalent exclusively within the modern communities that are considered as economically developed and successful. The study conducted by Read (2010) among New Zealand citizens detected the same negative correlation between the high levels of occurance mental ilnesses and low level of socialization. “The causal role played by poverty in a range of mental health problems is well established, including, for example, in relation to depression, drug abuse and suicidality” (Read, 2010, p. 7). The scholar suggests that the correlation between poverty and poor mental health is a complex issue caused by variables related to poverty and include child abuse and neglect, unemployment, gender, ethnicity, etc. As the inequality gap is widening, the quantity of mentaly unstable is sizing.

The main problem is the shift from traditional norms and values of the society to the celebrating the things like popularity, social success by any means, the need to achieve at least to the norms, for example like obtaining the latest model of iPhone or possessing an expensive model of car, etc. The pressure to be better, stronger, thiner, and prettier puts constant pressure on the society that praise this values. People with social disadvantages have the most unprotected conditions among the society.

There are certain accidents reported especially frequently among youth indicating that some of them can do anything to gain a last model of the gadget or a beautiful dress. For example it was reported that a boy in China sold his kidney for new model of iPad and iPhone due to the lack of money (Gambino, 2012). Such model of behavior indicates that the mental state of this particular boy was not even satisfactory, as he fails to recognize true value of his inner organs and modern gadgets. Due to illegal surgery, he suffers from deterioration and severe health complications.

The society where gadget costs more than helath cannot produce positive correlation between social disadvantage and poor mental conditions. Read (2010) cunducted the study primarily based on the literature research, aiming to determine if schizophrenia is related to poverty. The scholar admits that since the beginning of reserch conducted in the sphere of mental illnesses, mental institutions were filled predominantly with poor people. He also indicated that even several centuries ago only socially and economically deprived individuals were reporded to be ill with ceretain mental conditions. The same correlation was determined throughout the years pointing to the fact that the majority of mentally ill people consisted of socially disadvanteged individuals. Modern studies have the same correlation according to the researchers. The majority of people suffering from schizophrenia is the representatives of the lower class of the society.

There are a lot of literature suggesting that mentally ill individuals suffer from constant disadvantages, though there is a little number of studies detecting the social state of a person before he or she was mentally stable. Stilo & Forti et al. (2012) collected the information of number of institutionalized mentally unstable patients and their childhood years. The participants of the study consisted of only the patients who were diagnosed with certain mentally disorders in the adulthood. According to the results of the study, 226 people out of 278 examined were suffering from social disadvantages of different character (Stilo & Forti, 2012). Such studies indicate that there is a negative correlation between the high level of mentally instability and low level of social advantages. The majority of the examinees experienced low levels of social and economic advantages and allienation within the society. The additional factors of high rates of schizophrenia and the other mental illnesses are substanse abuse, poor physical health, and bad nutrition.

Nevertheless, the scholars admitted that socially disadvantages play one of the most important roles in development of mental disorders, where one of the most wide-spread was schizophrenia, chronic depression, substance abuse, and self-harm. As the reserachers report, there is a bigger percentage for an individual to develop a mental condition when in childhood he orshe is suffered from social disadvantage. It was reported by SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) that the national survey took seevral years ago revealed the increasing number of substance abuse and mental instability within Americans (Latham, 2011). What is more peculiar, the widening economic gap was detected as well (Puzzanghera, 2014). While connecting these facts one can easily see the correlation between the worsening mental health of the whole world and the social disadvantages of its inhabitants.

According to the reserched published in Los Angeles Times, “in the 21st century, half of the world's population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage” (Puzzanghera, 2014). It means that the rest of the world is suffering from social disadvantages comparing to those who cannot afford the most necessary things. Such politics result in the deprivation causing both economic and social exclusion of those who cannot meet the conditions of the modern world that insist that its inhabitants have to meet the standards of living and to be healthy, young, pretty, and off course wealthy, or at least have the attributes of the modern society.

While a great number of sholars dedicate their works to the research of the inequality and exclusion of the mentally ill individuals, the reasons for this disorders are not so often explored. While medical indicators of illnesses are more popular within the medical community as the topics of research, a little number of stdies ought to recognize the growing problem of negative correlation between mental ilnesses and social deprivation.

Nevertheless, modern research began to investigate the problem indicating that such conditions as schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse, and self-harm are the characteristics of poor and socially isolated individuals. It is possible to conclude that this correlation is the product of the modern world making people to pay more attention to the material things forgetting about the most important values, as personal physical and mental health, importance of good social relationships not bound with the status, level of popularity, or economic gains. The most frustrating fact is that this correlation can be observed not only within the settings of one country, but within the whole world, being especially prevalent among the western societies and those that are considered as economically and socially developed. Throughout the investigation of this question one can easily see either the correlation between these variables and the reasons for such practice.


Works Cited

Gambino, L. (2012). Chinese boy 'sells kidney to buy iPad'. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Hartwell, H. (2008). Editorial: Social inequality and mental health. The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 128(3), 98-118.

Ilardi, S. (2009). Social isolation: A modern plague. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Kwok, W. W. (2008). Mental health and poverty. The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 128(3), 56-76.

Latham, T. (2011). Mental illness on the rise in the U.S. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Morgan, C. & Burns, T. (2007). Social exclusion and mental health: Conceptual and methodological review. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 191: 477-483

Puzzanghera, J. (2014). Oxfam report highlights widening income gap between rich, poor. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from,0,3481555.story#ixzz2zdEPCikN

Read, J. (2010). Can poverty drive you mad? 'Schizophrenia', socio-economic status and the case for primary prevention. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 39(2), 7-13.

Stilo, A. S. & Forti, M. et al. (2012). Social disadvantage: Cause or consequence of impending psychosis? Schizophrenia Bulletin, 39(6), 1288-1292.

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