My blog is really first and foremost about mental health but it just so happens that poverty and mental health are highly intersectional topics. The genesis for this blog article was a lengthy discussion started by one of my friends on Twitter, Jackie Bouvier. Before I go any further, here is a quick plug for Jackie and her co-host Leila Leigh of The Populist Voice. The Populist Voice discusses prescient topics in politics and society with a slightly comedic twist and is very well worth watching. Anyhow, poverty is expensive in two principle ways: for the environment and for mental health. It just so happens that these two issues feed off of each other worsening both. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper dive into the analysis of the interaction of both.
Poverty is costly to mental health because people living in an impoverished condition pay more for goods and services which often results in higher incidents of depression and anxiety. Poverty fuels anxiety when a family living in it must worry about having money to make rent, utility, and food payments. Life in a state of poverty is one in an almost constant worry about the future and the ever dwindling assistance resources. Furthermore, mental healthcare, being hard enough to come by for people not living in poverty, is even more scarce for the impoverished. Therefore, mental health often gets untreated and when conditions like schizophrenia go untreated, the sufferer may find themselves at the mercy (or to be more apt, the lack thereof) of the criminal justice system.
Life in poverty means paying more for rent, car ownership, food, clothing, and much, much more. Stores in the inner city often know that they have a captive customer base that cannot afford to comparison shop so they set their prices high. Oftentimes the impoverished suffer from the credit scoring system which is designed to be prejudicial against the impoverished resulting in usurious interest rates. In many inner cities, there is a proliferation of title and payday lenders which offer fast cash but said fast cash comes at a high cost!
Food becomes more expensive because instead of people being able to buy in bulk where it is often cheaper, people are stuck buying food at the corner bodega. Not all of these corner stores price gouge and certainly a number are vested in the neighborhood in which they exist, but it is still more expensive buying smaller quantities of food that can be more easily transported home. While we are on the topic of food, nutritious, chemical-free food is nigh impossible to obtain in impoverished areas. Since there may be a correlation between the quality of food and mental health, people with mental illness may have their conditions exacerbated.
Poverty is expensive to the environment because services removing refuse and recycling are certainly not as high quality in impoverished areas. Furthermore, there is also a proliferation of older automobiles that just barely pass emissions inspections whereas newer cars operate much more cleanly. Since the poor must make more frequent trips via older car or bus to get staple goods, more fossil fuel must be spewed into the environment resulting in an increase in global warming. Buses often have emissions standards that are generously lax.
It is theorized that toxins in the environment that come from automobiles, trucks, and buses might also have a correlation with mental illness. Therefore the poor that live in industrial areas may suffer from higher instances of mental illness as a result of air pollution. There may also be more instances of cancer, asthma, heart disease, COPD, and more. Poverty is an incredibly expensive state and there is little anybody wants to do about it because it is so profitable for the wealthy and 1%.