Reflections on stigma and poverty in the UK

A deep dive into the consequences of stigma took us to painful places – anger, hurt, lack of self-worth, not belonging, self-limiting habits, struggles connecting with others and the resulting cumulative impact on mental and physical health. One team member highlighted research undertaken by Psychologists for Change on the psychological impact of austerity. It showed austerity to be the cause of people’s distress, yet it was being treated as a mental health problem located within the individual. It’s like telling a disadvantaged young person that they can get on the London housing ladder by cancelling their Netflix subscription. It reinforces the messaging that poverty is a state individuals succumb to, enabling people in power to relinquish any form of responsibility. I’m suddenly really interested in a ward-level breakdown of the number of people referred to their GP for what are actually poverty-related issues, such as breathing conditions caused by poor housing.

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