Links between the UK’s growing wealth gap and an increase in mental health problems are explored by Dr Maureen Tilford and the Rev Paul Nicolson

We read that there has been a massive increase in calls to the Metropolitan police involving mental health problems, with as many as one every five minutes Report, 29 August). Insp Brown from the College of Police attributes this to cuts in mental health services and of course this will have a clearly adverse effect, but what is the source of all this distress?

As far back as 1963, research by Langer and Michael found that psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities. Money is not a guarantor of mental health, nor does its absence necessarily lead to mental illness. However, it is generally conceded that poverty can be both a determinant and a consequence of poor mental health.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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