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Psychiatric morbidity and people’s experience of and response to social problems involving rights


N. J. Balmer
Legal Services Research Centre Legal Services Commission 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London


Psychiatric morbidity has been shown to be associated with the increased reporting of a range of social problems involving legal rights (‘rights problems’). Using a validated measure of psychiatric morbidity, this paper explores the relationship between psychiatric morbidity and rights problems and discusses the implications for the delivery of health and legal services. New representative national survey data from the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey (CSJS) surveyed 3040 adults in 2007 to explore the relationship between GHQ-12 scores and the self reported incidence of and behaviour surrounding, rights problems. It was found that the prevalence of rights problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, as did the experience of multiple problems. It was also found the likelihood of inaction in the face of problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, while the likelihood of choosing to resolve problems without help decreased. Where advice was obtained, psychiatric morbidity was associated with a greater tendency to obtain a combination of ‘legal’ and ‘general’ support, rather than ‘legal’ advice alone. The results suggest that integrated and ‘outreach’ services are of particular importance to the effective support of those facing mental illness.