Kunmi Sobowale, MD, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, attended the New Directions in Basic Income workshop May 18-20 hosted by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The workshop, held in collaboration with the Stanford Basic Income Lab, was the first to consider basic income as a strategy to alleviate poverty and to generate interest in research on basic income studies.
According to the University of Michigan, basic income studies address poverty by providing cash aid, including unconditional cash stipends. Advocates say providing cash might address poverty and economic instability.
"It was a great opportunity to hear from a diverse group of scholars representing various perspectives including economics, law, political science, psychology, and public health, among others," Sobowale said. "I was glad to contribute the medical perspective on poverty as a social determinant of health from our work with low-income mothers in New Haven."
Poverty affects mental health and health more generally from family planning to birth outcomes, externalizing behaviors and adverse childhood events, to increases in the incidence of common and serious mental illness in adolescence and adulthood, to increased rates of late life depression and dementia, Sobowale said. Providing cash has been shown to improve multiple mental health outcomes.
"We need to reimagine and think outside of the box to solve some of the challenges of mental illness," Sobowale said. "Basic income is one way to do so. The medical profession needs to play a more active role in advocating and shaping this narrative to do what is right for the people we serve."