“Poverty is pain; it feels like a disease. It attacks a person not only materially but also morally. It eats away at one’s dignity and drives one into total despair” (World Health Organization, 2001). At Outreach, we see real-world instances of these kinds of social science findings. Our clients often comment with surprise and relief that our support and services are within their grasp and made possible for them and their children.
There often is a negative relationship between socioeconomic status and mental wellness/illness and access to counseling services. The lower the status, the higher the risk for mental health struggles. Socioeconomic factors, especially low income, influence mental health in powerful and complex ways. They are highly correlated with an increase in the prevalence of serious disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, antisocial personality disorders and substance abuse. Most of these disorders are about twice as common (or more commonly diagnosed) among the poorest members of our communities.
Additionally, lack of access to education can be risk factors for mental disorders and can worsen existing mental problems. Schools remain the one constant and consistent venue in which students and their families can gain entry into the system that can support ongoing mental wellness. At Outreach, we have longstanding and fruitful relationships with local school districts to support this important relationship. Our community outreach focuses on families— many within our Blue Ribbon school district—who at times are exposed to greater levels of environmental and psycho-emotional adversity, which in turn exacerbates stress and psychological hardship.
With the health of a nation increasingly being seen as a critical component of development, psychosocial wellness as a public health concern must be acknowledged as a priority for overall social development. Social development, alongside academic success, goes hand in hand. Providing access to care and building cultural capital for our young people is a vital way to positively impact the statistics!
Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer counseling and educational programs to youth and parents that are affordable, accessible, and discreet; all within a welcoming, supportive environment. If you would like to help support Outreach’s services, please look for the organization’s annual campaign brochure, which is inserted in this issue.