The Importance of Mental Health Services for Low-income Communities

Mental health services are crucial to a low-income community’s well-being. As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Mental health is no longer just a problem for the less fortunate; now it’s a top priority of our nation’s leaders.” But many Americans continue to struggle with mental health service availability and costs. In fact, according to the National Council on Mental Health, nearly one in three Americans has missing or delayed medical attention because they were also experiencing mental health issues at the time (meaning they had a mental illness). Citizenship surveys have consistently shown that Americans living in low-income communities are more likely to report Lack of access to care as their most important issue than those who live in higher-income areas. While there are many reasons for this, one important reason may be that low-income communities often lack access to healthy, quality mental health services. This means that even though they may feel like they have problems, their doctors don’t always give them accurate diagnoses and services—or they don’t offer them enough of them.

What Is Mental Health in the United States?

Mental health disorders are any condition that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, interact, work, learn, or prioritize. They can also refer to conditions such as depression or anxiety. The American Foundation for Mental Health defines mental health as “the condition where a person has a mental illness and is able to function effectively in society, in their community, or with others.” Some experts have defined mental health as a “clinico-emotional condition” because it is related to emotions, such as depression and anxiety, and does not have a medical definition.

Why Is Mental Health Important for Low-Income Communities?

To succeed in the economy that is quickly transforming our society, it is important to have a plan for addressing each of the many challenges that challenge low-income communities every single day. Mental health is a key part of that plan because it is the first line of defense.

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