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Poor literacy linked to worse mental health problems: Study

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues relating to Education/Health/Poverty/Hunger


Source: TH



  • According to a recent study in India, people with poor literacy face more mental health problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety.
  • It is the first such study to look at the global picture of literacy and mental health.


Highlights of the study:

  • Despite rising literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still an estimated 773 million adults globally who can’t read or write.
  • Literacy rates are lower in developing countries and those with a history of conflict, and women, who account for two-thirds of the world’s illiterate, are disproportionately affected.
  • People with more literacy tend to have better social outcomes in terms of finding employment, being paid well, and being able to afford better food and housing.
  • Lower literacy is related to poorer health, chronic diseases and shorter life expectancy.
  • Thus, little or no literacy holds a person back throughout their life and they often become trapped in poverty or more likely to commit a crime.


Significant association between mental health and literacy:

  • People with lower literacy had greater mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
  • Literacy may be impacted by a number of factors, such as poverty or living in a region with a history of conflict, which can affect mental health.



Insta Links:

Making mental health a public health priority


Mains Links:

Q. “Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples. (UPSC 2021)