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In a world defined by staggering inequality, the gap between the rich and the poor has grown to unprecedented proportions. While the richest 1% of the population harbours almost twice as much wealth as the rest of the world combined over the past two years, many individuals face displacement, economic crises, homelessness, persecution, discrimination, natural disaster, poverty, and war. At Iguality, we recognize social inequalities as a prime cause of mental health struggles, especially in vulnerable communities that still face exclusion and  discrimination. 

Research shows that communities—including refugees, women, LGBTIQ+ individuals, individuals living in poverty, individuals living with physical or mental disabilities, and others—experience an overall lower quality of mental well-being, with higher rates of anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, and other challenges. Furthermore, these negative consequences on mental health not only affect individuals of those communities, but affect the community as a whole and can even lead to intergenerational trauma, where trauma is passed on from generation to generation. 

These effects have only been worsened by the COVID-19 Pandemic, exacerbating pre-existing gaps in the healthcare system and giving rise to a mental health crisis. Unfortunately, many individuals face significant barriers in accessing mental health care. These include cultural stigma, language barriers, limited awareness about mental health, scarce mental health care options, and most commonly, economic barriers resulting from the high costs of healthcare, particularly in countries without adequate public mental health care systems or public healthcare systems in general.

“These negative consequences on mental health not only affect individuals of those communities, but affect the community as a whole and can even lead to intergenerational trauma, where trauma is passed on from generation to generation.”

These factors combine to create a detrimental snowball effect where inequality and marginalisation significantly impact the mental health of individuals and communities. Then, limited access to mental health care heightens these issues, furthering the challenges and perpetuating the cycle of inequality and negative mental health outcomes.

While Catalonia has a very good general public health system, the mental health support is limited due to a huge shortage of psychologists and resources for adequate services | Picture by naciodigital.cat

At Iguality, our mission is to improve the mental well-being of vulnerable populations, working towards breaking cycles of marginalisation and mitigating negative health outcomes. We see mental health care as a crucial frontline defence against inequality. We strongly believe that by providing, promoting, and ensuring free and equal access to mental health care services, we can disrupt the cycle of marginalisation and make significant improvements for those facing inequality. 

In practice, this means that we offer cost-free mental health care support to a wide range of communities, mainly through individual counselling with the invaluable support of volunteer therapists and psychologists. Additionally, we organise a cost-free Sports Program where individuals can come together to play (team) sports, build a sense of community and connection, and thus improve their mental wellbeing. Through our work, we can support communities to reclaim their rights and their place in society, independent of where they are from or to which group they belong to, and with that, contribute to a more equal and fair society for all.

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About the author

Dima Aboukasm
Dima Aboukasm is an Anthropology Student interested in public health, specifically making mental health care more accessible to underserved communities.

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