Mental health is a spectrum, ranging from well-being to a common or severe mental health disorder. Persons living with mental health issues face many forms of stigma, discrimination and violence as well as barriers to exercising their civil, economic, social and cultural rights. This ranges from being prevented to vote or open a bank account or to being discriminated against in the communities they live in. Such barriers result in a situation where the person is unable to enjoy full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Research indicates that living with mental health issues is linked to higher rates of unemployment and shorter employment spells. Being unemployed for significant periods, is also known to impact a person's mental health.
There is a remorseless, self-fortifying cycle of poverty associated with mental illness in India. The poor are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems and conversely those with mental health problems are more likely to slide into poverty. Inclusion of persons with mental illness as a vulnerable group who require development assistance is therefore essential.