Community interventions for adults experiencing financial uncertainty

Some evidence that community interventions may improve mental health outcomes for those facing financial difficulty

May 10, 2021

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When people see the headlines “new research show____”, it is easy to forget the year(s) of work that went into every single research paper. I am of the opinion that every publication is a major success deserving of recognition.

This past week, we published a paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health titled “Effectiveness of community interventions for protecting the mental health of working-age adults experiencing financial uncertainty: a systematic review.”

In this systematic review, we screened over 2,000 studies for papers which measured the effectiveness of community interventions for adults facing financial, employment, food, or housing insecurity.

This paper looked at 5 types of community interventions:

  • Advice services co-located in health care settings (e.g. community hub models where you could get debt or job advice in the same physical location as your general practitioner/family doctor)
  • Link worker social prescribing (e.g. a non-clinical worker who can connect people to resources and provide support. Other titles include community connector, community navigator, or wellbeing advisor)
  • Telephone debt services
  • Food insecurity interventions (e.g. food banks, bulk buying clubs, or community kitchens)
  • Active labour market programmes (e.g. schemes that provide recently unemployed workers with subsidies or participated in vocational training programmes)

Overall, we found some evidence that community interventions may improve mental health outcomes for those facing financial difficulty, however, we also recommend that further research on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions is needed. Read the full, open-access paper here.

This review was led by Mike McGrath, a research assistant I supervised at UCL who has since moved on to bigger and brighter things as he takes on a PhD. He did brilliant work in this job and I am so excited to see where his academic public health career takes him!

In terms of my own milestones (acknowledging that this is gobbly-gook to those not enmeshed in academic publication culture), but I am particularly proud of this paper as it is my first as senior author (the last one the author list)! In epi, the power positions are first or last author.

Take care of each other, savour the spring sun, and maybe sniff some flowers (if your allergies allow!).

Posted on:
May 10, 2021
2 minute read, 366 words
Financial insecurity Common mental disorders Systematic review UK Public mental health
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