May is mental health awareness month. We have made it to the nineteenth blog of this year and we are discussing the link between poverty and mental health. Read how one affects the other below. When you have a mental illness, it’s a chronic illness meaning treatment or medication will assist with making living with the illness easier but there is no cure. But what if you’re dealing with another life stressing problem like poverty. Poverty is a restriction on upward mobility that negatively effects a person's social class and the accesses that come with high social class. When you are poor you don’t get quality education like children in the suburbs, private schools and catholic schools. When you are poor you don’t get access to high quality healthcare whether you cannot afford it or it covers a basic standard visits (i.e. a yearly physical). When you are poor you don’t get adequate housing; whether you’re too poor to live in a safe neighborhood or your income isn’t high enough to cover the rent never mind the utilities. When you are poor you don’t get access to fruits and vegetables whether they are too expensive or you live in a food desert. When you are poor you don’t get generational wealth. You start at zero wealth and continue maintain that zero to minimal savings and at worse you end up in debt trying to keep your head above water. How much does poverty cost the poor?
E V E R Y T H I N G
Mental health effects the lives of non-suffers to the point of regressing from normal activities s/he once loved, job instability, strained relationships with family/friends, strange/new behavior patterns that are disruptive/abnormal to his/her regular life, depressive/suicidal thoughts etc. Now add mental health into the equation plus poverty. It’s more than a conundrum to say the least. How does one simply book an appointment for therapy and attempt to get medication when s/he cannot afford to get good healthcare and if there’s an option to upgrade their healthcare there’s an out of pocket copay that s/he cannot afford?
It leaves you to choose one over the other. Tackling your mental illness or paying for your basic needs to sustain yourself. The mental illness won’t go away; in fact, it will get worse because you can’t afford treatment. Your decision making process will decline with the severity of your mental illness and this goes hand in hand with poverty. If you cannot take control over your life in a healthy manner due to mental illness, how can one control themselves enough to work a job? Whether it’s a high paying job or minimal wage job, the trade off is always timely duties for pay. So where does that leave suffers of mental illness who can’t keep a job?
It leaves them in a perpetual cycle of poverty and mental instability. Whether it was poverty that triggered the mental illness or the mental illness and the lack of proper care led to poverty, the conclusion is all the same. The results intertwine into into a complex problem of traumatic proportions. If one does not have enough money to afford proper healthcare s/he will experience a severe decline in their mental stability. The opportunity for upward mobility and the pursuit of happiness becomes dimmer and dimmer. This can lead to homelessness and the assistance for people with serious mental illness comes close to none. According to Treatment Advocacy Center, “Approximately 33 percent of the homeless are individuals with serious mental illnesses that are untreated.” Click HERE to read more.
It’s time we discuss the reality of being poor and mentally ill and how that effects our outcome in this individualistic, capitalistic society. And if you think a mental health crisis won’t happen to you or someone you know, think again. According to National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, “An estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had a serious mental illness (SMI), including 2.5 million adults living below the poverty line.” Click HERE to read more. Life happens to us all unpredictably, it’s easy to have it all together and see it all unravel fast from a triggering life event to losing steady employment. If you are someone or know someone who is in need of mental health care click the link below.
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