Is the Mental Health Crisis Deepening? Yes.


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A really good piece appeared in the Financial Times on mental health and EAP’s. The need for employee assistance has skyrocketed. But here and in England this has now become a crisis. Especially in the context of getting proper medication and therapy. Here are a few excerpts:


  • Employee assistance programs are usually pretty dull affairs. For a few decades now, employers have paid EAP providers to run phone lines their employees can call if they need support with personal problems. The idea is to provide some short-term support — a handful of counselling sessions, say — to help staff deal with mild problems before they get worse. But this year, EAPs have found themselves facing a swelling wave of complex mental health problem.


  • A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted the striking link between antidepressant use and deprivation: in 2021/22, more than twice as many patients were prescribed antidepressant drugs from practices in the most deprived areas in England than in the least deprived areas. The problem with leaning more on employers to provide mental health support during this time is that not everyone has access to such programs.


  •  People on low pay, insecure contracts or no work at all are less likely to have such a safety net. They will need as much help as the money-constrained state can spare. Some interventions don’t have to be very costly, such as integrating talking therapies with debt advice. Other policies that would help are already on the table but need to be implemented, such as government plans to make life in the rental sector less insecure.


  •  Leaving people to cope on their own will store up more problems, both for them and the economy as a whole. Already, a rising share of people say they are too ill to work. Although the over-50s are the biggest driver of this trend, there is also a worrying rise in inactive young people. For them, the biggest cause of long-term sickness is mental illness, phobias and nervous disorders, up 24 per cent since 2019. Economic problems are hard for people at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. How well or badly we handle this moment will have ramifications long into the future.

        “The Mental Health Recession is Deepening.” Financial Times (Nov. 22, 2022).

Couples and Depression — How Do You Help your Loved One?

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     Millions of couples are dealing with depression. Specifically, when one is suffering from it. What should the other do to help? A really great article has addressed this issue. Here are some excerpts from that recent article in the New York Times.

  • Millions of Americans are in relationships with partners who are prone to depression.
  • When helping your partner weather a battle with depression, experts say there are ways to be supportive while also caring for yourself.
  • Learning more about what depression is and how it affects people may also help you protect yourself emotionally, respond with more empathy and avoid taking your partner’s behaviors personally.
  • If one partner doesn’t understand that their partner is suffering from depression, they may mistake things like a loss of interest in romance or sex as a personal rejection.
  • To help a loved one get diagnosis and treatment, you can call potential providers and set up appointments, or compile a list of clinicians for them to contact. But experts say it is also important to remember that you cannot force anyone to get help, and that pushing too hard can backfire.
  • You shouldn’t have to be your partner’s sole support, especially in situations where they may be in danger. Keep in mind that depression can increase the risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
  • Romantic partners can affect each other’s health and health-related behaviors in ways good and bad.
  • It is imperative that you support your own mental health. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out to a health care provider for evaluation. But even if you are not, you may find it helpful to see a therapist or to join a peer-led support group.
  • In addition to connecting with a therapist or support group as needed, it is also important to find other ways to prioritize self-care. It does not have to be time-consuming or complicated,
  • Spend time outside in nature, get involved in some form of advocacy or move your body. Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or doing less strenuous exercise like walking or gardening for an hour, may have a protective effect against depression.
  • And “socialize, socialize, socialize — whatever that looks like for you. You may encourage your partner to join you in your efforts to get out and exercise or connect with others, but keep in mind that loss of interest in normal activities or hobbies is a symptom of depression.

                         Couples and Depression — How to Help?” (Oct. 2022)

Are Unmarried Couples Facing a Wealth Gap? Yes, But …”


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   A good piece appeared in the Wall Street Journal discussing the wealth gap facing unmarried couples living together (compared to married couples). My take away is that economic assessment is correct. But I’m really not sure that economic analysis ought to govern a couple’s decision to get married. Nevertheless, here are some excerpts from this article. 

  • A walk down the aisle can be a route to greater wealth and prosperity for couples in the U.S. Married people have higher net worths than their unmarried counterparts their age.  
  • The mystery, though, is why cohabitating but unmarried couples struggle to build wealth in the same way. As of 2019, the median net worth for cohabiting couples age 25 to 34 was $17,372, a quarter that of the $68,210 for married couples of that same age range is $7,341.
  • While there are legal and tax benefits to marriage, research suggests the financial security and long-term mind-set of those who tie the knot may also be a powerful driver of wealth. More married couples pool their money—such as sharing savings accounts and investing together—to achieve certain goals. Cohabiting couples are less likely to combine finances and investments.
  • Working with two incomes and combining their investments to maximize compound interest can significantly increase a couple’s financial prospects. Simply put, married people may be more likely to be on the same page financially.
  • Married people may be much more likely to have these conversations around what goals they have for their financial future. There seems to be something very special and unique about deciding to share finances.
  • Unmarried couples may be less willing to commingle their money. Our money, our income, represents a huge part of who we are, sharing that can be scary for people, so they tend to be very protective.
  • Both married and unmarried couples who do pool finances also experience greater relationship satisfaction and may even stay together for longer. 
  • Housing is one of the biggest factors in establishing a couple’s wealth. Compared with single people and cohabiting couples, married couples hold a larger concentration of housing wealth. 
  • In the current hypercompetitive housing market, housing affordability declines, single people and cohabiting couples are often at a disadvantage. 
  • Housing prices are so high that you really need pooled resources to be competitive in some of these markets.”
  • Marriage rates are lower among Black and Latino groups, and those same households of similar ages held far less wealth than their white counterparts, whether married or partnered. Family structure also influences the overall net worth of a household. Partnered couples with young children tend to have less wealth than partnered couples without children. 

         “Unmarried Living Together Face Wealth Gap.” (Nov. 2022)