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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume V, Economics of Wellbeing by Cary L. Cooper, David McDaid

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11

Promoting and Protecting Mental Wellbeing during Times of Economic Change

David McDaid

London School of Economics and Political Science, U.K.

Kristian Wahlbeck

Finnish Association for Mental Health, Finland

Sporadic economic shocks and periods of economic transition are inevitable and not new. Even before the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, economies rose and declined, often linked to the strength of military power on land and at sea, or major changes in environmental conditions. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries Europe enjoyed an economic and agricultural boom. A slight warming of the climate and improved agricultural techniques allowed lands that had previously been marginal or even infertile to become fully productive. In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, however, the climate once again began to cool. Decreased agricultural output could no longer support the same level of economic activity, and economies began to weaken. Private international banking and commercial ventures eventually succumbed to the recession that began in the fourteenth century. The consequences for health and wellbeing were stark: decades of famine and war, not to mention the small matter of the Black Death and its devastating effect on the European population (Dyer, 1989).

While detailed evidence on the links between this medieval recession and mental health and wellbeing may be missing, we can point to the wealth of knowledge gained in more recent years. The twentieth century ...

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