2021 Child-Tax-Credit Expansion Lowered Family Stress and Improved Mental Health

At the Daily Yonder, which covers rural America, Claire Carlson and Tim Marema report on new research out of Harvard showing the effects of the Child Tax Credit in lowering depression and anxiety:

Tax benefits, including some that resemble this week’s bi-partisan tax bill passed in the House of Representatives, could help reduce anxiety and depression among low-income families, a study shows.

A study conducted by a Harvard University research center found that the adults in low-income families that received the Child Tax Credit during the 2021 expansion of the program were less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

The head of the research team for the study said it appears that better mental health resulted from a reduction in financial stress.

‘We didn’t actually find any changes in the use of mental health services,’ said Rita Hamad, who heads the Social Policies for Health Equity Research Center at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She made the statement in a recent interview with Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity.

‘[This] suggests to us that mental health didn’t improve because all of a sudden people had money that they were going to use on getting medications or going to therapy, but rather that people’s stress levels were improving because they had less financial stress.’

She said that conclusion is corroborated by other studies that found low-income recipients of the tax credit spent the money on food, housing, and other basic needs.”

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