"If you could do one thing…" Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities is a new report from the respected British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. One of its nine proposals is to use Participatory Budgeting (PB) to promote mental well-being in communities.
In its report "the British Academy presents a collection of opinion pieces on health inequalities from leading social scientists. Each of the authors has written an article, drawing on the evidence base for their particular area of expertise, identifying one policy intervention that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities."
Professor Kwame McKenzie, respected Canadian expert on mental health, proposes "Using Participatory Budgeting to Improve Mental Capital at the Local Level".
As Mackenzie says "One may question why I have not chosen one of the many proven, effective mental health promotion and mental illness prevention strategies as my suggestion for local authority public health. The answer is that this is not an either/or trade-off.
I have no doubt that there will be locally chosen and appropriate initiatives that promote mental capital. But participatory budgeting, if done correctly, has the potential to leverage those for even greater benefit, as well as developing resilient and socially cohesive populations."
Content reproduced from the British Academy website
Separately, there has been a recent academic paper that describes how in Brazil, where PB has flourished over many years and at scale, it can be shown to be effective in other areas linked to public health, as quoted below:
By observing the evolution of budgetary allocations across time in different municipalities I find a robust pattern linking the use of participatory budgeting to a change in the pattern of government expenditures within the period under analysis: the adopting municipalities tend to increase the spending on health and sanitation significantly more than their non-participatory counterparts.
The Effects of Participatory Budgeting on Municipal Expenditures and Infant Mortality in Brazil, by Sonia Goncalves, King’s College London, UK.