Impact of economic crisis on mental health: a 10-year challenge

CNS Spectr. 2021 Feb;26(1):7-13. doi: 10.1017/S1092852920000140. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


The worldwide economic crisis of the last decade, and still unresolved, led to a great recession involving all major economies. Since economic factors may influence mental wellbeing, not surprisingly a rise in poor mental health was observed in different countries, while representing a great challenge to psychiatric interventions. This paper aims at reviewing the available English literature focusing on the impact of the current economic crisis on mental health, with a special focus on depression and suicide. Available studies indicate that consequences of economic crisis, such as unemployment, increased workload or work reorganization, and reduced staff and wages, may constitute important stressing factors with a negative impact on mental health. Although data are not easily comparable in different countries, depression seems to be the most common psychiatric disorders especially in middle-aged men. Even suicide rates seem to be increased in men, mainly in countries with no public welfare or poor family relationships. All these findings require a careful attention from both governments that cut resources on public health instead of investing in it, and psychiatric associations that should implement appropriate strategies to face and to manage this sort of depression epidemic driven by economic crisis. Again, as available data suggest that the impact of the crisis might have been attenuated in countries with higher spending in social protection, they clearly urge policy makers to take into account possible health externalities associated to inadequate social protection systems.

Keywords: Economic crisis; depression; mental health; recession; suicide; unemployment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology*
  • Economic Recession*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Health*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Unemployment / psychology*