Your health and the economic recession

Logo: West Midlands Public Health ObservatoryIt is not a surprise that the current crisis has hit our wallets, but have you thought about the implications that this may have on your health?

Every day the media delivers rather pessimistic news around unemployment going up, more companies going bust, redundancies and future job losses.

The contraction of our disposable income combined with the gloomy picture we perceive generates fear, stress and concerns that can result in a diverse range of health issues ranging from obesity to mental and cardiovascular diseases.

In order to avoid considerable harm to the health across the region, the West Midlands Public Health Observatory (WMPHO) brought together local and health authorities from all over the region to discuss how to face this major issue.

The half-day conference Sustaining healthy communities in hard times: the information needs took place on 10th March in Birmingham. The format included presentations and round table discussions.

Key messages I took away from the presentations include:

  • The current economic situation has hit the business sector hard and errors have been made. However, specific actions such as spending budgets locally, spending early in the budget year to kick start the local economy and encouraging capital projects can make a difference. (Mike Dell, President of Dudley Chamber of Commerce)
  • An increase in unemployment will impact, not only the individual’s health, but also the health of their families. (Jonathan Tritter, Professorial Fellow, University of Warwick)
  • ‘Knowledge is the enemy of disease – the application of what we know will have a bigger impact than any drug or technology likely to be introduced in the next decade’ (Sir Muir Grey, Chief Knowledge Officer of NHS)

The round table sessions were organised by local authority and aimed to discuss:

  1. Threats and opportunities that the current crisis will have on health.
  2. The information required to face the challenges ahead.

The West Midlands Regional Observatory supported the round table discussions with Local Authority Area Information (PDF, 419KB) analysing issues around employment, skills and worklessness.

This short document was produced with graphs and commentary taken from previous Observatory research:

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