For the impoverished segment of society among us, daily existence is a continuous uphill battle to meet the daily demands of attaining food and shelter. The issues associated with poverty go far beyond the financial implications of destitution, and effect every singular aspect of existence, but perhaps none more negatively than in the area of mental health. The balance in lifestyle that ensures stability and enjoyment are severely lacking in those facing poverty, while the stresses of merely surviving on a day to day basis is magnified with no relief or outlet in sight. Added to this is the pressure of viewing family and children suffer the indignities of indigence, and the situation is ripe for a decline in overall mental health.
Even those individuals who are living in poverty that recognize that they have a mental health issue are bound by the confines of their circumstance, and as such, treatment may be beyond the scope of possibility. Single parents or head of households may not be able to spend the recommended time in treatment, due to not only financial considerations but family commitments. Transportation to and from appointments, cost of treatment and prescription drugs, and even something as simple as babysitting are all roadblocks to those economically disadvantaged from receiving mental health treatment in a timely manner. Even among the "working poor", a few hours of missed wages on a regular basis can mean the difference between maintaining a residence or becoming homeless.
It is because of the preclusion of those with mental illness living in poverty from receiving assistance that a "domino effect" is enabled. Anger issues present in crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse and assault. Attempts at self-medication including in drug and alcohol abuse only serve to escalate mental health issues at an accelerated rate. The financial drain on social services, the welfare system and the justice system is staggering, all as a result of mental health issues that may well have been avoided with a single dose of daily psychiatric medication.
It would undoubtedly serve the greater interest of the general public, and the mentally ill in particular, if society were to make a more assertive and aggressive effort at addressing mental health issues in the impoverished, especially in the area of prevention. Sadly, to many living in poverty mental health treatment is available only after homeless or imprisoned in a penal institution.