Will Obamacare Create a Decrease in Depression?


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Without health insurance, a broken arm can be a catastrophic event. Image by anitapeppers.

Financial Pressure and Poor Mental Health

A 2012 study by the Liverpool Public Health Observatory in England further bolstered the connection between financial pressure and poor mental health.

The research, led by Lyn Winters, assessed the impact of economic downturn on health and wellbeing. The study noted that the deepest negative result of an economic downturn is on mental health.

In fact, steady evidence has shown that economic problems can lead to increased death rates from suicide and alcohol abuse.

Related to the Oregon study, the Liverpool study specifically found that concern about lack of health benefits generates great stress on families.

Increased stress leads to poor mental health, feelings of helplessness, confusion, insecurity and anger.

Those feelings of weakness can easily lead down a slippery slope to full-blown depression.

Universal Health Care: Prescription for Happier People

While the evidence points to the mental health benefits of inexpensive access to medical coverage, detractors of the Affordable Care Act might not be swayed by the findings. The Oregon study showed that thus far, the general physical health of the insured did not improve, and many are dubious about the societal benefits of good mental health.

Perhaps the World Health Organization should have the final word on the matter. The WHO contends that mental health equals greater human capital, noting that, “Positive mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and can contribute to his or her community.” In other words, an industrious society is dependent upon the mental health of its citizens.


Baicker, K., et.al. The Oregon Experiment – Effects of Medicaid on Clinical Outcomes(2013). The New England Journal of Medicine. Accessed on August 26, 2013.

Goldman-Mellor, S.J., et. al. Economic Contraction and Mental Health. A Review of the Evidence, 1990-2009. (2010). International Journal of Mental Health. Accessed on August 26, 2013.

Winters, L., et.al.  Assessing the Impact of the Economic Downturn on Health and Wellbeing. (2012). Liverpool Public Health Observatory. Accessed on August 26, 2013.

WHO. Impact of Economic Crises on Mental Health. World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe. Accessed on August 26, 2013.

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