Mental Illness and Poverty
The path to recovery is clearer with food on the table.
Families living with mental illness face challenges that many of us cannot imagine. For those suffering with bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and other conditions, even life’s routine daily tasks can become monumental. Many families impacted by mental illness also struggle to put food on the table—a hardship that can only add to their despair. The link between poverty and mental illness has long been studied by researchers who are eager to better understand the cause and effect nature of the relationship. Does the wretchedness of living in poverty lead to the deterioration of mental health? Or, is poverty a result of the debilitating effects and social isolation that so often accompany mental health issues?
According to Christopher G. Hudson, a Massachusetts researcher and expert in mental health policy, “Poverty is at least as important as innate or biological factors” triggering mental illness. In a seven-year study comparing rates of mental illness within the state by community, Hudson found that the poorest cities and towns had three times the rate of repeat hospitalization for mental health issues than their affluent neighbors.
This is not news to me or to the South Shore Mental Health staff that works with our clients and their families each day. While dedicated to their treatment, many clients and families are struggling to keep a roof overhead and provide the very basic necessities for living. Lacking sufficient food, clothing, and heat, the path to recovery from mental health conditions is that much harder. This is heartbreaking, particularly at this time of year when most families are thinking about the holidays and gifts for their children.
Thankfully, there are initiatives like The Patriot Ledger’s Lend A Hand program that can help alleviate the season’s financial stress and prepare families for the cold winter ahead. Now in its 17th year, Lend A Hand assists needy families whose stories are featured in the newspaper from now until the end of December. Through the generosity of readers eager to make a difference, the Ledger collects thousands of dollars to benefit clients of South Shore Mental Health, Quincy Community Action Program, and the South Shore Community Action Council. We are so grateful to be included in this initiative again this year—knowing that it provides financial relief for many of our struggling clients, so that they can continue to focus on their treatment during the often stressful holiday season. Contributions to benefit South Shore Mental Health can also be made directly by clicking here.
Regardless of socioeconomic status, treatment for mental illness works. Knowing this, it is imperative that we clear the path of all obstacles, so that access to recovery is available for everyone. Mental illness and poverty are not life sentences. With the right tools and support system, freedom from both is well within reach.
South Shore Mental Health