A new report found that those who suffer from mental illness or addiction are much more likely to be poor, unemployed and living in inadequate housing especially when they suffer from other forms of disability.
The study was compiled using federal data and was published by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The data suggests that regarding several factors including housing, income, employment and attainment of educations, people who suffer from mental illness or addiction not only face worse outcomes than the general population they also fare worse than those with other forms of disabilities.
The report stated that when controlling by disability type, people with a mental illness or addiction fared much worse than any other type of disability.
High Rates of Mental Illness Below the Poverty Line
Unfortunately, those with mental illnesses or addictions often have other types of disability that further challenge them. The report suggested that having a chronic physical condition can be a risk factor for developing a mental health issue and vice versa.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission says that when it comes to shelter, 29 percent of their residents who report mental illness live in housing that they struggle to afford, is in poor condition or is too small for the size of their household. U.S. studies have also shown that there is a strong correlation between poverty and mental health problems that create a cycle for people living with these issues.
According to research, fifty-one percent of Americans are expected to live in poverty by the age of sixty-five. Those living below the poverty line tend to be much more affected by mental illness with depression being five times as likely among those living in poverty. About 39 percent of the homeless are affected by mental illness, most notably schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The Cycle of Financial and Mental Health Issues
Poverty, mental illness and addiction can become a cycle from which it is difficult to escape as there are few resources available to the poor for mental health treatment. For those who can't pay for medication or treatment, they are often less capable of coping with their afflictions in a healthy manner.
Their inability to recover ultimately decreases their chances of employment thus perpetuating their circumstances of minimal income and unchecked mental complications. Another problem is that living in poverty tends to increase all sorts of risk factors for health and mental health issues.
Poverty can create overwhelming stress as people worry about having enough to eat and getting enough money to pay the bills. Those living below the poverty are also more exposed to violence because of the neighborhoods that they live in and the kind of traumatic experiences that can accompany living in a violent environment.
There is a strong correlation between these problems on either side with poverty increasing the risk of mental illness or addiction and mental illness causing a greater likelihood of poverty. However research has found that in patients who have been hospitalized for mental illness, issues of poverty including unemployment and a lack of affordable housing were more likely to precede the onset of mental illness except in patients with schizophrenia.
Much of the data gathered about the problem suggests that poverty impacts mental health both directly and indirectly. Poverty and mental illness tend to share a complex relationship in countries throughout the world.
The only solutions that improve this situation are mental health intervention programs which tend to help people both in terms of their mental illness and their financial situation as well. Although there may be a cycle of poverty, mental illness and addiction it is possible to recover from all these issues with professional treatment.
Photo Credit: Bigstock