Vox: We need new ways of treating depression
I searched out other radical experiments with different kinds of social and psychological antidepressants, often in unexpected places. (Some of these were not designed as antidepressants but ended up serving that purpose.) In the 1970s, the Canadian government embarked on an experiment in a rural town called Dauphin, in Manitoba. They told the population there: From now on, we are going to give you, in monthly installments, a guaranteed basic income. You don’t have to do anything for it — you’re getting this because you are a citizen of our country — and nothing you do can mean we will take this away from you. It added up to roughly $17,000 in today’s US dollars (if they had no income from other sources).
Many things happened as a result of this three-year experiment, but one of the most striking is a big fall in hospitalizations — 8.5 percent in three years, according to Evelyn Forget, a professor in the department of community health services at the University of Manitoba and the leading expert on this experiment. Visits for mental health reasons accounted for a significant part of that drop, Forget says, and visits to doctors for mental health reasons also decreased.
“It just removed the stress — or reduced the stress — that people dealt with in their everyday lives,” she says. There is evidence that if you have no control at work, you are significantly more likely to become depressed (and to die of a stress-related heart attack). A guaranteed income “makes you less of a hostage to the job you have, and some of the jobs that people work just in order to survive are terrible, demeaning jobs.”