Poverty and mental illness

Annie Harper, a cultural anthropologist at Yale University, speaks about the connection between poverty and mental illness at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Monday.

2020欧联杯预测A cultural anthropologist at Yale University said it is often argued people become mentally ill because of poverty or vice versa. But she’s not interested in that conversation, because she said both are true. What she would rather talk about is what can be done about it.

Annie Harper, who works in Yale’s department of psychiatry, gave a presentation on Monday night at St. Mary’s College of Maryland about the connection between mental illness and poverty.

Harper said those suffering with mental health disabilities struggle to obtain financial recovery. She gave an example of a man she knew.

2020欧联杯预测His name was Steve, a black man in his 40s with an adult child for whom he was still paying child support.

Steve, who was once in prison and had a mental health history, came to Harper because he was overwhelmed by the debt he was in. He spent $450 a month on child support, did not have any credit, racked up student loan debt, owed rent and was constantly borrowing from family and friends. He worked nights driving, what Harper said he called “ghetto Uber” and would fall asleep at work.

2020欧联杯预测Harper said he had a public breakdown, was sent back to prison and eventually spiraled back into mental illness.

2020欧联杯预测“We’re pretty good at medicating mental health … but we really don’t know how to help with financial problems,” Harper said.

She said physicians tend to notice only mental health behaviors instead of noticing financial resources behavior, like a person who would choose to spend a month’s worth of money in one week and struggle for the next three, or a someone who would constantly buy lottery tickets, for example.

“That’s not a mental health system, that’s a poverty system,” she said.

The next step is to recognize that the problem is not an individual one but a systematic one.

Harper said patients in poverty are often prescribed financial literacy classes “but it’s kind of useless” or the way it is taught is not helpful. She compared it to teaching someone to drive who can’t afford the car or doesn’t live in the environment for driving.

“In my experience, people who attend financial literacy … are good if not better than the teacher with managing money,” she said. They have to regularly manage limited resources.

2020欧联杯预测She said the historical racial inequalities when it comes to finance needs acknowledging. There were various “direct wealth stripping practices” that mostly affected people of color, Harper said. She also mentioned the free-market policies from the 1970s penalized the lower and middle classes and led to people saving less and buying more, an increase in the number of fines and fees and making it harder to pay off debts.

2020欧联杯预测“What can we do?” she asked after saying the country is in a debt crisis. “Choosing how you vote is one of them.”

And educating mental health professionals is another. She also suggested that free high-quality financial counseling for all would be ideal. She spent five years working with the New Haven Financial Empowerment Center, where anyone can receive services from trained individuals.

She recommended banking services while advertising BankOn, a service that works to ensure everyone has access to a safe and affordable bank or credit union account, suggested action-oriented research to find out what debt people who have low-income struggle with the most and how to address it and advocating for a systemwide change.

2020欧联杯预测Harper answered a few questions afterward about bankruptcy, medical legal partnerships and a free financial empowerment toolkit that can be found, if still available, at .

She also received a question from Barbara O’Neil of Lexington Park, who asked for the best way to share this information with other agencies, especially in a rural community.

2020欧联杯预测Harper suggested networking, and that it ultimately comes down to knowing someone in the agencies.

O’Neil, who is an advocate for people who are homeless, said she enjoyed Harper’s presentation. “I think there needs to be more light shed on” the mental and financial health topic. O’Neil volunteers at The Mission and used to help military families who struggle to find housing.

2020欧联杯预测“So to hear someone actually studying that is just wonderful,” she said.

O’Neil said she was a domestic violence victim and became homeless. “I’m working on telling my story, and I’m trying to help fix some issues that are broken in the community,” she said.

Twitter: @KristenEntNews

2020欧联杯预测Twitter: @KristenEntNews