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New research to study the connection between poverty, depression, and anxiety

The University of Michigan has received a roughly $7-million grant to study the connection between poverty, and depression and anxiety.

The grant comes from the National Institute of Mental Health and will fund five years of research.

Some studies have shown that people living in or coming from poverty have higher risks for depression and anxiety than the general population.

But according to Dr. Christopher Monk, one of the researchers on the study, it’s not clear what exactly causes that increase. He said the study will follow adolescents as they move into adulthood.

“If you’re growing up with a lot of violence in the neighborhood that might alter brain function and then in turn increase the rate of anxiety later on in early adulthood. But we don’t really know if that is the case.”

Researchers will look at a number of factors including neighborhood characteristics, parenting behavior, and employment status.

“Then in turn see how these environments can increase or decrease the likelihood of having different kinds of psychopathologies such as depression or anxiety,” Monk said.

According to Monk, mental health research has largely overlooked both low income and African American persons by focusing on people living closer to universities.

“The sample you’re going to get then because it is easier is going to be whiter and higher income. That’s something we’ve ignored for a long time.”

Monk said he hopes to have his sample group made up of roughly two-thirds African-American participants.

The study will look at 600 individuals - primarily from Detroit, Chicago, and Toledo.