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Why do some people get put in therapy, and others get put in jail?

This week in our series exploring health and social inequality, we’ll explore mental health. When exploring inequalities in the mental health systems set in place in the USA and UK. I looked at who is most likely to have mental health issues, who are least likely to receive help and who is most likely to suffer consequences because of their mental health issues.

The evidence led me to a surprising conclusion about the prison systems of nations with the lowest crime rate like Singapore, Sweden and Iceland.

Who is most likely to have mental health issues?

People in poverty (the lowest 20% of earners) are about two to three times as likely to develop mental health disorders than the rest of the population. We know that racially diverse populations and the LGBTQ+ community and women experience higher rates of poverty than men and this echoes the data I found on who is most likely to have mental health issues. Older people are more likely to be wealthy than younger people.

Trauma is more likely to affect diverse populations and immigrants with one study reporting 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health treatment were diagnosed with PTSD. LGBTQ people are twice as likely to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime when compared to heterosexual men and women and 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

Surprisingly, Black men and White men experience similar rates of mental health problems (with the exception of psychosis), however, Black women experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues than White women.

Who is least likely to receive mental health treatment?

Despite the earlier statistics that most people will have an established mental health problem by 24, young people aged 16-24 were found to be less likely to receive mental health treatment than any other age group.

Despite the earlier statistic that Black and White men experience the same rates of mental health disorders and the population of Black women experiencing significantly more mental health issues than White women, White British people are more likely to receive mental health treatment, although Women are more likely than men to receive treatment for all mental health conditions (15 per cent vs. 9 per cent).

Despite having the highest number of diagnosable trauma rates, populations of Asian/ Pacific Islanders are the least likely to access mental health services. Overall, people from racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive me