Joint Media Release - Poverty & Mental Health: System Solutions to Improve Wellbeing

To coincide with Mental Health Week, Anglicare WA and the Western Australian Association of Mental Health (WAAMH) released Poverty & Mental Health: Reducing Systemic Harm to Improve Wellbeing. The report analyses recent research into the links between poverty and mental health, outlining key government policies that unintentionally exacerbate problems and recommending alternative approaches.

The report’s authors point to decades of research affirming the causal link between financial difficulties and mental health challenges. Further, they found the relationship is bi-directional: people experiencing mental health challenges are twice as likely to experience financial troubles, and vice versa.

Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said, “For people living in poverty and struggling with mental health challenges, inadequate policy decisions can create serious barriers to thriving.”

“The report outlines four key recommendations that can lead to better societal outcomes.”

“The current rates of income support keep people well below the poverty line, increasing the risk of mental health challenges. The excessively burdensome, complex, and punitive mutual employment obligations place undue hardship and stress on jobseekers. The lack of access to early childhood interventions, and a service system that often retraumatises users, place additional barriers in front of  people already doing it really tough.” Mr Glasson said.

CEO of WAAMH, Taryn Harvey, said “We know that in addition to adequate income support, one of the best ways to reduce the risk of poverty is employment.

“The issues paper highlights evidence-based programs such as the Individual Placement and Support model which uses a tailored approach to support individuals to achieve meaningful employment.  The successful program has been operationalised across 50 Headspace sites in Australia and several mental health services in WA and SA - with support from the Federal Government.

“We also know that prevention and early intervention supports such as the Anglicare WA Child Parent Centres (CPCs) improve access to supports that are tailored to the needs of parents, families and communities, and leads to positive mental health outcomes.”

Ms Harvey said, “Solutions lie in government and organisations seeing poverty as a public health issue and redesigning systems to place human dignity at their core.”


James D McHale
Media & PR Lead, Anglicare WA
0405 297 024

Colin Penter
Projects Lead, WAAMH