Poverty and its Effect on Mental Health: The use of Community Psychology – Essay Example
Poverty and its Effect on Mental Health: The Use of Community Psychology The objective of the essay is to proffer that the issue of poverty is related to poor mental health and that the use of both accommodationist and critical community health psychologist approaches can be used to fight against health inequalities (poverty).
Poverty and its Effect on Mental Health: The Use of Community Psychology
Poverty has always been considered a social dilemma afflicting people from diverse backgrounds. It has always been an intriguing and challenging concern due to the multitude of factors that interplay and contribute to its existence. People could be misguided that poverty does not exist in a progressively developed country such as the United States. However, this social stigma pervades people from the lowest income levels despite the economic condition of the country they reside. In this regard, this essay aims to proffer that the issue of poverty is related to poor mental health and that the use of both accommodationist and critical community health psychologist approaches can be used to fight against health inequalities (poverty). The contributory factors and possible solutions to poverty would likewise be determined and evaluated in the light of community health psychology. In doing so, one would be enlightened on addressing this stigma through basic changes in the structure of opportunities more than just merely seeing it as a result of temporary social dislocations.
Poverty and Mental Health
Kenny & Kenny (2010) of Patient UK averred that individuals exposed to poverty have greater tendencies to develop chronic illnesses which have direct impact to the functioning of the brain. Several studies have shown the close correlation of poverty with psychiatric disorders as reported by Murali & Oyebode (2004). These authors take into account the various effects of poverty on the emotional, behavioral, and mental dilemmas in terms of reviewing social inequalities between income groups (Murali & Oyebode, 2004). Accordingly, the authors’ findings included the following, to wit: there is a strong correlation between the status of employment and the prevalence of psychiatric problems among adults. There is a predominant increase in rates of psychiatric problems for groups who have been found to be unemployed. The rate of psychiatric problems quadrupled in samples where drug dependence has been found to be existent. Further, with people who had been unemployed, the possibilities of contracting phobias and psychosis have trebled. Concurrently, there were fifty percent more probabilities of being depressed, having anxieties and being diagnosed to have obsessive-compulsive disorders and preponderance for other psychiatric dilemmas such as mood disorders, anxieties and depressive disorders by as much as two-thirds (Murali & Oyebode, 2004).
In addition, there were studies that supported higher tendencies for mood disorders as linked to people from the lower socio-economic status (Dohrenwend et al, 1992 and Murphy et al, 1991) and that greater stress due to factors contributory to poverty leads to higher levels of depression.
Other psychiatric disorders such as suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as personality disorders are more prevalent in people of lower socio-economic status. These studies are proffered herewith: there is a direct relationship between parasuicide and suicide, with people who belong to the lower socio-economic group. Likewise, the incidence for both suicide and homicide are more frequent in areas found to be densely populated and eminently below the poverty line (Kennedy et al, 1999); people who die from alcohol related dilemmas come from socially disadvantaged class, most predominantly from the lower socio-economic structure (Harrison & Gardiner, 1999); and there is also a strong correlation between criminal activities being propagated by people from neighborhoods classified as being in the poverty level and these groups exhibit more impulsively than those in other higher income bracket (Lynam et al, 2000).
Community Health Psychology and Accomodationist
Campbell & Murray (2004) emphasized that community health psychology is “concerned with the theory and method of working with communities to combat disease and to promote health” (2). Accomodationists, on the other hand, were distinguished as “those who take existing economic and political relations, as given, accepting them as legitimate… seek(ing) to promote change at the individual and micro-social levels only” (Campbell & Murray, 2004, 9).
It is a clear indication that community health psychologists target the roots of the problem by encouraging the participation of community members into awareness and positive action towards recovery from poverty. There are intervention methods that would enhance skills and decision-making development which would improve the way community members react to stress and socio-economic pressures. Accordingly, the challenge of community health psychologists is to “develop strategies to work with communities to overcome social deprivation and enhance health and well being” (Campbell & Murray, 2004, 18 & 19).
A large portion of the poor are children, the old, the unskilled, husbandless women, and persons with sever mental and physical handicaps. As such, poverty cannot be eliminated by increasing the productivity of the poor. Rather, it can be significantly reduced only by changing the traditional norm that the right to consume beyond a low minimum guaranteed by public relief is tied to the value of the individual’s contribution to the economy.
Despite the highly industrialized economy of the United States, the prevalence of poverty continues due to the big five factors that are inherent in society: ignorance, apathy, disease, dependence and dishonesty – more than economic.
Despite all these solutions, poverty will always be a challenging problem. By making an active stance, by being proactive rather than reactive, by making one’s own personal accountability to counter the five major factors to poverty, the first step to eliminate it starts with each and every one. Community health psychologists offer a solution to combat the roots of the dilemma. The time to act is now.
Campbell, C. & Murray, M. (2004). “Community health psychology: promoting analysis and
action for social change.” Journal of Health Psychology, 9(2), pp. 187 – 196.
Dohrenwend, B. P., Levav, I., Shrout, P. E., et al (1992). Socioeconomic status and psychiatric
disorders: the causation-selection issue. Science, 255, 946–952.
Harrison, L. & Gardiner, E. (1999). Do the rich really die young? Alcohol-related mortality and
social class in Great Britain, 1988–94. Addiction, 94, 1871–1880
Kennedy, H. G, Iveson, R. C. & Hill, O. 1999. Violence, homicide and suicide: strong
correlation and wide variation across districts. British Journal of Psychiatry, 175, 462–466.
Kenny, T. & Kenny, B. (2010). Poverty and Mental Health. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
Lynam, D. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E, et al. (2000). The interaction between impulsivity and
neighbourhood context on offending: the effects of impulsivity are stronger in poorer neighbourhoods. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 563–574.
Murali, V. & Oyebode, F. (2004). “Poverty, social inequality and mental health.” Advances in
Psychiatric Treatment, 10: 216-224.
Murphy, J. M., Oliver, D. C., Monson, R. R., et al (1991) Depression and anxiety in relation to
social status: a perspective epidemiological study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 48, 223–229.