8 May 2007
BRUSSELS – More than one in six Belgians (17.3 percent) struggle with depression at some point in their lives.
This emerged from a large study conducted among 11,909 Belgians over a period of seven years by researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain.
Those with economic troubles were most likely to suffer from emotional problems, according to the study.
Economically weaker groups in society also have more trouble getting access to care for mental problems. While wealthy psychiatric patients are often able to afford out-patient care, poorer patients are often forced to be admitted into psychiatric institutions for care.
The number of compulsory admissions to psychiatric care has been on the rise in Belgium for several years. Belgium has more mandatory admissions (4,000) each year than its neighbours. Researchers Vincent Lorant and Vincent Dubois of UCL say this is not due to the weaker mental health of the poor, but rather to discrimination in mental health care provision.
Interning poorer patients in institutions is often seen as the only solution if a patient cannot afford to see a psychiatrist regularly, the researchers from UCL said.
Lorant and Dubois urge measures to limit the risk of depression. Financial help in the short term for instance, but also pre-school education for children from weaker social environments. The professors also want a campaign to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
[Copyright Expatica News 2007]
Subject: Belgian news