DeSTRESS Project - Understanding and Dealing with Stress

Project Background

Some information about the DeSTRESS study.

Providing effective treatment and support for mental distress is a stated government aim. Within low-income communities, use of antidepressant medications is relatively high, but current strategies frame mental distress as an individual psychological problem, masking the factors that are often the root causes of suffering e.g. social isolation, unemployment.

This research aims to:

  • examine why and how people’s ability to cope with poverty-related issues has become increasingly pathologised
  • understand how high levels of antidepressant prescribing and use are impacting on people’s health and wellbeing in low-income communities


This interdisciplinary study draws on a range of qualitative methods including:

• focus groups with community members
• in-depth repeat interviews and use of audio diaries with people who have received a medical consultation for poverty-related distress
• interviews with GPs
• use of conversation analysis techniques to analyse video-recorded GP-patient consultations


We aim to:

  • Analyse how the medicalisation of poverty-related distress affects wellbeing
  • Identify responses to distress that effectively support people and inform debates in a way that benefits patients, and assists practitioners and policy makers.

The research programme is intended to have strong and distinctive impacts in policy and user communities. For example, developing guidelines on good practice for health professionals working in low-income communities, feeding findings into local health plans, disseminating to clinical commissioning groups, policy forums, civil society organisations and other low-income communities.