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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Survey shows link between poverty and mental health

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This January, Hamilton Center Inc. (HCI) has been working to bring attention to Poverty Awareness Month and the overall problem affecting the country.

The U.S Census Bureau conducted a 2023 Current Population Survey that highlighted the scope of poverty in America. The survey found that 37.9 million people were in poverty nationwide in 2022, and that number was not “significantly different” the previous year.

HCI statistics for the fiscal year from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, found similarly high numbers of poverty for its consumers. They found 44% of its consumers had a household income of less than $8,000 per year, while only 21% had an income of more than $30,000.

According to numerous studies, families and individuals also feel negative effects associated with living in poverty, including problems with mental health, social stresses, trauma and more.

Many consumers with HCI below the poverty line are also in the homeless category. HCI’s Kelli Fuller, a care manager with the Vigo County outpatient division, works specifically with homeless outreach. The importance of this work was emphasized by the recent cold wave.

“There were 57 people there with no place to live,” Fuller said on the warming center HCI operates. “We spend a lot of time trying to get people housed, but if you don’t have money, you’re not going to get housed.”

Fuller’s outreach includes working with warming centers for homeless citizens in Terre Haute, helping with financial assistance programs for housing, and working with families who may not be homeless but still deal with poverty. Some people seeking assistance are employed but have limited assets or income.

“You have to be able to have income and be able to work or function in a household setting. But if you’re mentally ill and using drugs, it usually goes south; that happens to a lot of our clients,” said Fuller in a statement released by HCI.

Fuller plans to work with HCI’s Crisis Diversion Center (CDC) to create long-term strategies for people dealing with housing difficulties.

“We need to figure out what we can improve and how we can improve it and work with our CDC units, who have been helpful,” Fuller said. “The majority of the homeless people out there are untreated for either substance problems or mental health issues, or both.”

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