It’s Not All Negative: How Mental Health Impacts the Economy
Name: Elizabeth Kandler ’23
Majors: Economics and Dance
Hometown: Gilbertsville, Pa.
Project Title: How Are Economic Outcomes Depressed When the Economic Agent Is Depressed?
Faculty Adviser: Jennifer VanGilder
For my Summer Fellows project, I am working on analyzing the relationship between economics and mental health; thinking about how changes in mental health can bring about different economic outcomes. In many resources that discuss mental health and economics, the outcomes are often negative, so I’m trying to find positive outcomes and examine how thinking about them could change our views of mental health in the economy.
My goal with this project is to bring more attention to how mental health is viewed in areas such as economics and find ways to try to change those views in a beneficial way. Once again, with everything being surrounded by a negative association, mental health has often been seen as something that will prevent someone from successfully being able to contribute to the workforce or other areas. So, I hope to find ways or situations in which mental health will have a positive impact on the economy. This could mean increases in productivity or a focus on the quality of the work that is being done over the quantity of hours worked.
From this research, I have learned how important it is to continue thinking subjectively and find ways to think about how others might vary in the emotions and feelings that they have. With the rise in taking care of mental health becoming more popular in the past few years, many individuals tend to generalize emotions and believe that everyone suffers from the same mental illness. But the truth is that there are many different factors and reasons that shape a person’s mental health making every condition different. Even though I have known that people think and express themselves differently, it continues to a deeper level when trying to live the day-to-day. At Ursinus, we learned through our CIE questions about how to treat and think about one another, and this just emphasizes the importance of understanding how to communicate and listen to one another when someone might be struggling with mental health. My research on mental health this summer has advanced my analysis of that question, including how I want to answer it and think about it after the conclusion of this project.
My favorite part about Summer Fellows so far is learning about the different projects that other students are doing throughout the summer. Whether we discuss them in our residence halls or over our weekly advising lunches, I enjoy hearing how passionate and interested students are about what they are researching. This summer, it feels like there is a wide variety of projects that are going on, which makes it even more interesting to see when we present them to one another. It truly feels like everyone is excited to continue working on their ideas and find out more about their subject matter to share with the world and bring more light to important issues.