How Socioeconomic Status Affects Mental Health

Written By:

How Socioeconomic Status Affects Mental Health

Socioeconomic status refers to the social and economic position of an individual in society, which is often measured by factors such as income, education level, and occupation. SES is an essential determinant of a society’s well-being, and research has shown that it has a significant impact on health conditions like a high death rate and high disease morbidity. This link has been consistently observed with mental health, and studies have shown that psychiatric disorders are more common among those with a lower socioeconomic status.

The correlation between lower socioeconomic status (SES) and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse has been firmly established by research. This relationship can be explained by the stress theory, which asserts that personal resources such as coping style, self-esteem, and locus of control can mitigate the impact of stress on depression. Individuals with a high socioeconomic level tend to have more of these resources. The stress theory also highlights the role of community features such as values, social welfare, social cohesion, and public health policies in influencing mental health outcomes.


How Socioeconomic Status Affects Families

Families with a low socioeconomic status (SES) are deprived in multiple ways and suffer from a higher number of stressors related to family income, social relations, employment situations, and health issues than those with a high SES. These socioeconomic inequalities affect not only parents but also children’s lives.

For instance, children from low SES families often have worse access to education and social participation than their peers with high SES. Moreover, children with low SES suffer more often from mental and physical health problems than children with high SES. Experiencing symptoms of mental health issues during childhood has been linked to a higher likelihood of developing mental health problems in adulthood.

Mental illness affects a significant percentage of children and adolescents globally, ranging from 13% to 20%. Those with low socioeconomic status (SES) face a higher risk of developing mental health problems compared to those with high SES. So much so that childhood SES indicators have become useful in predicting the onset, severity, and persistence of mental disorders.


How Socioeconomic Status Affects Society

The overall functioning of human beings is impacted by their socioeconomic status (SES), which includes both physical and psychological health. Factors such as poverty, lower educational achievement, and poor health often accompany low SES, which can have far-reaching consequences for society. In both the United States and across the globe, disparities in health, resource allocation, and quality of life are on the rise. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on addressing the root causes of socioeconomic inequities and taking steps to bridge the vast gaps in SES both domestically and internationally.


How Socioeconomic Status Impacts Mental Health

The link between SES and mental health has been consistently demonstrated in research. Individuals from lower SES are more likely to experience mental health problems for several socioeconomic factors, including limited access to healthcare, increased stress levels, and exposure to adverse living conditions.


Financial Strain

One of the main reasons is poverty and the financial strain that comes with a low SES. Financial stress is a significant risk factor for a decline in mental health, and it can lead to feeling hopeless and helpless. Individuals from lower SES often struggle to make ends meet, which can lead to chronic stress that can exacerbate mental health problems over time. Prolonged financial strain often leads to chronic anxiety and depression disorders.


Access to Healthcare

In addition, individuals from lower SES may have limited access to healthcare resources, including mental health services. The high costs of healthcare can be a significant barrier for those with limited financial resources, and this can prevent individuals from seeking the help they need to manage their mental health. As a result, mental health problems can go untreated and worsen over time.


Poverty and Adverse Living conditions

People with lower socioeconomic status generally encounter unfavorable living conditions, such as inadequate housing and unsafe neighborhoods. These situations can result in persistent stress and trauma, which can negatively affect mental well-being. Research from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicates that individuals from lower SES backgrounds are more prone to chronic stress, which can contribute to developing mental health issues. Chronic stress is a prolonged stress response that can have a significant impact on managing both physical and mental health.


The Role of Social Support

Social support systems have a crucial role in managing mental health, and individuals with lower socioeconomic status often have limited access to social support networks. The Journal of Health and Social Behavior has proven that individuals from lower SES are less likely to receive social support from friends and family. This can exacerbate mental health problems and make it more challenging to seek appropriate treatment.

Individuals from lower SES may have fewer friends and family who are not in a similar situation to theirs and who can offer emotional support and guidance. This can lead to feeling isolated in their struggle and often becomes a lonely endeavor which can further exacerbate mental health problems. In addition, those with limited financial resources often don’t have access to support groups or other community resources that can provide additional support.


The Impact of Education

Educational attainment is a critical factor in socioeconomic status and has a major impact on managing mental health. Individuals with access to higher education are more likely to have better-paying jobs, increased access to healthcare, and a better understanding of how to maintain good mental health.

Education can provide individuals with tools and resources to manage their mental health effectively. For example, individuals with a higher income and education level may have a better grasp of self-care practices, such as exercise, mindfulness, and therapy, and prioritize these in their lives. They may also be exposed to a broader scope of resources, such as mental health apps and online support groups. People with a better understanding of these issues are less likely to experience chronic mental health problems and are more likely to seek appropriate treatment when needed.


The Importance of Addressing Socioeconomic Disparities

Improving mental health outcomes and providing equal access to resources and support for maintaining good mental health requires addressing socioeconomic disparities. This will contribute to creating a fair and just society where everyone has the chance to prosper.


Improving Access to Healthcare

Improving access to healthcare is one crucial step in addressing SES disparities. Providing affordable and accessible healthcare can help individuals manage their mental health effectively and prevent mental health problems from worsening over time.


Improving Access to Support Networks

Increasing social support networks is another crucial step in addressing SES disparities. Providing support groups and other community resources can help individuals connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges and provide them with emotional support and guidance.


Improving Access to Education and Resources

Providing education and resources is also crucial in addressing SES disparities. Improving access to education and resources for individuals from lower SES can help them better understand the importance of self-care practices and seek appropriate treatment when needed.


Improving Mental Health Conditions as a Society

It’s essential to tackle the underlying causes of socioeconomic inequalities to enhance mental health outcomes and ensure that everyone has the necessary resources and assistance to maintain their mental health. To address such disparities, it is vital to enhance access to healthcare, establish stronger social support networks, and offer education and resources. By striving towards a more equitable and fair society where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive, we can improve mental health outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Related Topics

LGBTQ Friendly Treatment Centers Promoting Diversity and Healing

LGBTQ Friendly Treatment Centers Promoting Diversity and Healing

Combating Opioid Overdoses with Narcan

Combating Opioid Overdoses with Narcan

Using Semaglutide for Treating Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder

Using Semaglutide for Treating Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder