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Dismantling the Social Welfare System a Recipe for Increased Mental Health Problems

Note: This post is modified from the original version found on my political blog. I have attempted to make it more ‘neutral’ in tone. If you want to view the original post, please email me at info@rising-phoenix.us for the link. As a rule, I keep my political and mental health blogs separate.

As if there are not enough people suffering from mental health problems here in the United States, in 2004 50% of Americans reported having a mental illness within their lifetime and 25% of Americans reported having a mental illness in the past year, policies advanced by the Republican party the past few years increase the risk of mental health disorders if implemented.

Why? As you may have seen, recent reports large portion of American’s live in a state of poverty. In the US poverty line for 2011 was defined as $22,350 for a family of four. This saving grace for people living in poverty is the strong social welfare system the US has. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment, and section 8 housing, to name just a few, have helped millions of American’s survive in these difficult times. These programs also have allowed the poorest citizens to have access to medical care.

A number of studies, both in the US and other first world nations, have proved that a strong link between poverty and mental health problems exist. Given this fact, it is reckless to dismantle social welfare programs.

Not only would these policies destroy our social welfare system, they would to put tens of thousands of Americans out of work, by eliminating large portions of the federal government. Republican governors are doing the same thing at the state level. Not only does this immediately put people out of work during a difficult time, where reports show that for every one position available four people are applying for the job, it has an effect on other members of the community.

In the Washington, D.C. area many businesses thrive and survive solely because of federal employees and federal contractors. Budget cuts, downsizing and shut downs of the government put these businesses at risk and take food out of the mouths of small business owners.

On top of this first level impact to small business owners, fewer people would have money to spend on non-essential items. This would lead to a decrease in retail sales and more layoffs due to poor sales, companies would also order less goods from distribution centers and manufacturers. This in turn would lead to more layoffs, including those who transport the goods to the stores. By now you can see how severe this problem would become.

As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, there is a strong link between poverty and mental illnesses. Even without detailed studies, this link should be obvious to anyone willing to think. As people lose their jobs, they begin to struggle to make ends meet and provide for their family.

The longer people are out of work, the more the feeling of helplessness and failure increases, and the more severe it becomes.

No one wants to be poor. No one wants to let their family down by not being able to provide for their family.

So as more people would become unemployed the number of people experiencing mental health problems would drastically increase. While the social welfare programs we have in place these days do not eliminate poverty, they do help mitigate the problems – some. Without these programs, even more people would live in poverty and would have no access to health care, including mental health services.

While we now have many people suffering from mental health problems, the effects of the problem and the number of people suffering would increase without these social programs. These programs are meant to help those who are struggling.

We cannot dismantle our social welfare structure or kill jobs. If we do, even more people will begin to suffer from mental health problems and the severity of the problems would increase as the poor would not be able to get treatment for their mental health problems.










Posted: May 30th, 2012 under News, Thoughts.

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