People with poor literacy face more mental health problems such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety, according to a review of studies which used data from nine countries .
The research, published in the journal Mental Health and Social Inclusion, is the first to look at the global picture of literacy and mental health.
The researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the U.K. found that little or no literacy disproportionately affect women, who account for two thirds of the world’s illiterate. “Despite rising literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still an estimated 773 million adults globally who can’t read or write,” said Bonnie Teague from UEA’s Norwich Medical School. “Literacy rates are lower in developing countries and those with a history of conflict, and women are disproportionately affected,” Teague said.
The researchers noted that people with more literacy tend to have better social outcomes in terms of things like finding employment, being paid well, and being able to afford better food and housing, Medical Xpress reported. Not being able to read or write holds a person back throughout their life and they often become trapped in poverty or more likely to commit crime, they said.