Mental Illness is a Social Problem - Sample Research Paper

Last Updated: 11 September 2019

Mental health is an issue that disturbs society. It is difficult to predict that one will suffer from mental health. Besides, it is also difficult to diagnose one with mental health issues. According to mentalhealth.gov, " mental health refers to the emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." Studies have linked doing homework and assignments to mental health, but that is a discussion for another day. Now, in this sample APA research paper, you will see how mental health is a social problem. Read on and if you need help, one of our writers can help. So, place an order. 


Mental Health Issues


Mental Illness is a Social Problem


Most sociological studies have recently focused on studying the causes, impacts and recovery options of mental illness (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). Mental illness has been posed in most literature a health problem that is on the rise. The rise of mental health issues is reflected in the escalated number of hospitalizations and disability cases, which have claimed billions of money used in taking care of the patients as well as the loss of productivity of the patients. Mental health can be described as the ability of an individual to undertake productive activities and function effectively (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). On the other hand, mental disorders may refer to poor mental health characterized by alterations in mood, behavior and thinking at an individual level (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). Some of the mental disorders include schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, dementia, and depression. Mental illness, on the other hand, refers to clinically diagnosed mental disorders such as psychotic disorders and anxiety (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). There has been a considerable number of debates as well as literature on the exact causes of mental health issues. More so, mental illness has been attributed to some social conditions such as negative events in life, stressful circumstances, social roles that are demanding in nature, level of social support, and strength of cultural systems (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). The psychological well-being of a person is connected to their social life (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). Therefore, when the psychological well-being of an individual is affected, mental illness results. In this paper, the social causes of mental health are explored widely.


Social Factors that Cause Mental Illness


There are a plethora of social factors that can cause mental health difficulties. Each of these factors has its own effects on the individuals being considered. Poverty, gender, social class, social inequality, ethnicity, and race are all factors that have some contribution to mental illness (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012).


Poverty and Mental Health


Epidemiology refers to poverty as low economic status that is measured through social or income class through evaluation of things such as low education levels and unemployment that literary means that and individual belongs to the lowest economic class in an ideal society (Germov, 2013). Mental health and poor socio-economic conditions have been linked to increased emotional as well as psychological problems. Poverty has been ranked as the world’s number one mother of all chronic diseases (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). It is therefore in no doubt that it also results in mental health problems that have devastating effects on the affected individuals.  The pain and suffering experienced by the poor triggers mental health problems (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). Poverty affects the industrialized and third world countries alike, meaning that the statistics of mental health cases between the developed and the developing countries are more or less the same. However, there I a difference in the distribution of mental health cases in the developed nations since those who suffer the most in such countries are the people of the lower cadre who lack education, have poor living standards and lack employment (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). Statistically, poor people are twice more likely to experience mental health problems/illness compared to their rich counterparts. As a matter of fact, a comparison of studies and research on mental disorders have shown that people from the lowest socio-economic class are 8 times more likely to be schizophrenic compared to those who belong to the highest socio-economic status (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). Out of every four people considered four have been found to be suffering from mental disorders such as schizophrenia, alcohol use disorders and depression among others, the condition being even worse in the developing nations where poverty is rampant. However, as the world progresses towards globalization a number of policies and plans have been developed to help in combating mental health problems caused by poverty.


Poverty has various implications for an individual. For example, poor people will not have adequate education for them to secure a quality education. Consequently, such people are more likely not to get employed, and even when employed some of the wages that they are paid are likely not to sustain their lifestyles (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010). Without financial security, the mental well-being of a person is affected as they face some economic stressors (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). People from low economic status live in poverty and often turn to drug and substance abuse as well as increased sexual activities. This has resulted in huge families that they cannot take care of giving them stress in life (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). Most mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have been linked to stress in the workplace and in families alike. Similar effects have been experienced among drug users who abuse drugs to the extent of being affected mentally. It is intuitive that people who have mental illnesses cannot be employed and will have a lot of social problems from family life to their workplaces leading to increased chances of being mentally ill.


Mental illness is a mental health issue that knows no boundary. Therefore, akin to adults, children are also likely to be affected by mental health problems when they are found in low social-economic areas where poverty is rampant as well. One sign of poverty is the homelessness issue (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). People who are homeless are highly [redisposed to mental illness displayed through mental disorders such as suicide inclination, anxiety, depression, emotional problems, mood disorders, and substance abuse. Most independent studies have found a correlation between homelessness, poverty, and schizophrenia, which is a mental health problem.


 There is an apparent relationship between low economic status and the prevalence of mental illnesses or disorders (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010). In fact, poverty causes emotional disturbance on people who experience poverty making them more likely to have mental issues such as stress. Poverty impacts the cognitive skills of children from poor households making them to be depressed and have mood disorders as well (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010). Most of the children with mental health disorders are not accorded proper medical attention and the problem may persist in society. Additionally, mental illness comes the issue of stigmatization by the family members because of the face of the family. This has happened in most households leading to poor care of the mentally ill children (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). Poor people generally lack the capacity to utilize the available opportunities and are more exposed to being frustrated with life. When frustration takes hold, people often have depression and stress that to some extent leads to family break-ups. This can affect the family members since each of them has to take up an additional responsibility that in itself might be a stressor (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010). Consequently, the count of people who is suffering from mental health is likely to increase as poverty also takes the lead.


The poor people will take jobs not because of their safety but because they want the payment (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). In this case, they are more inclined to workplace stress and thus depression. Australia sets a good example of a country that can be used to explain how poverty can lead to mental illness (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). Contemporary Australia is made up of most immigrants as well as indigenous groups. Most of the immigrants lack education and therefore are not employed (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010). This basically means that such people live in poverty compared to others who are well-off. The immigrants have therefore resorted to drugs and substance abuse due to the social isolation that they feel in the society (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). An increased level of mental illness is best explained by the fact that most of the immigrants cannot access health care facilities due to poor economic conditions they are in. all these factors combine have an effect on the mental well-being of the people.


The Connection Social Class and Mental Illness


Sociological studies have been able to decipher the idea of social class in an ideal society (Germov, 2013). There are different measures that are used to group people into a given social class.  Social stratification at the society level introduces different classes. Class I is comprised of the most affluent and highly educated lot in society. Ideally, class I comprises of business leader as well as professional leaders in the society (Aneshensel, Phelan & Bierman, 2012). Class II, on the other hand, comprises of those educated beyond high school presumably to colleges and universities and have a better living standard in the society. Class II, therefore, comprises of managers and other professionals. Class III-IV as a social class comprises of those who are employed and have formal work. The cohort in class III includes skilled, semi-skilled and working-class individuals in the society who have high school level education. Class V is the lowest class in society and is comprised of people who are semi or unskilled and have the poorest educational standards as well as financial foundations. In some literature, three classes are apparent including high class, middle class, and the lower class. Of course, a second classification is a generalized approach of classes I to V (Murali, 2004). Class V has the most significant contribution of individuals to the statistics of mentally ill individuals in society. The strong correlation between social class V or low economic class and poverty is ideally based on poverty (Murali, 2004). Class V cohort does not have the necessary education that one needs in order to be able to make financial decisions, secure better working conditions and have a good house (Pilgrim, Pescosolido & Rogers, 2011). Often at times when one does not meet their basic needs, they are faced with stress and depression that results in mental health (Murali, 2004).


Research has consistently linked social class to mental illness, making the social class a social determinant of mental well-being of an individual (Murali, 2004). Generally, just like poverty, people who live in the lower class have more inclination towards being mentally ill compared to those in the upper class within the society (Germov, 2013). As a matter of fact, it has been shown that the reason why there is prevalence in mental health issues in the neighborhoods of the lower class people is that to the drifting or what is referred in some literature as the social selection. In respect to drift, those who are mentally ill from the upper classes are more likely to move to areas where the mentally ill in the lower social class are. Looked keenly, the social selection concept basically means that mental illness id associated with lower-class people.


It is obvious that those in the lower social classes live mostly below the poverty line. This translates to stressful lives that have the effect of increasing the chances of one being mentally ill (Scheid & Brown, 2010). People from low socio-economic class often have low educational levels and incomes as well. With the two, comes the effect of lack of sustainability of one’s lifestyle consequently leading to stress, anxiety and depression (Scheid & Brown, 2010). The frustration that is derived from painful life experiences further exacerbates the chances of an individual engaging in drug and substance abuse that basically have an effect on their mental health. This would also mean that the same impacts that poverty causes on mental health are similar to the impacts of social class on mental health.


People who belong to the lower classes feel isolated from the rest. This has been consistent in findings of studies on the impacts of lower-class on children’s mental health (Scheid & Brown, 2010). The lower class individuals are unable to offer the necessary parental guidance to their children leading to failure of families. When families are apart, children are likely to be depressed and most of them resort to drug abuse as the next best alternative (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). Psychosis in both men and women has shown high prevalence in social class V this is akin to the results of schizophrenia on lower-class people. Most literature has utilized the social causation theory, in explaining why there is greater adversity in the lower class that has been attributed to psychosis (Scheid & Brown, 2010). Research further indicates that in low economic classes children are likely to be affected at tender ages being that the parents are more actively engaged in fending for the family than playing their parental role (Scheid & Brown, 2010). Indirectly, low social-economic class individuals will not give the right set of conditions for the cognitive development of the children (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). Consequently, the children always develop behavioral problems that might result in depression and anxiety and social exclusion. Children from lower classes in society also get stressed when they feel the isolation from the children in the upper classes of society.


Lower levels of education and social achievements alike increases the vulnerability of the people in the lower classes to mood disorders that is common case in mentally ill individuals. The most common cause of mood disorder as explained in the social causation theory is lack of resources, poor working conditions leading to stress, and to larger extent poverty (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). The class V or the lower class people have registered a higher number of people who abuse drugs and alcohol.


There are various impacts of mental health that affect the social well-being of both an individual and the society in general. First off, mental illness increases the chance of one losing their job and thus becoming homeless. Schizophrenia, anxiety and attempted suicide have caused people who were mentally healthy to lose their homes due to lack of responsibility. Secondly, mental illness can be attributed to the high number of incarcerations and thus filling of prisons (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). There is a negative impact on the families of the imprisoned individuals that could actually lead to family break-ups and further social problems in society (Funk, Drew & Knapp, 2012). The other impact is the abuse of drugs and exacerbated levels of chronic diseases such as cancer and COPD among the mentally ill.


Conclusion


In summary, mental health is one of the requirements in a sober society. Failure of an individual to have mental health automatically renders them mentally ill. As have been discussed in this paper, there are many forms of mental disorders such as stress, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and mood disorders among others that affect people in the society. Of sociological importance is the cause of mental illness in society. It has indeed come out clearly this far, that mental illness has a sociological origin. Even though the scope of this paper is poverty and social class, other sociological factors such as gender, race, and ethnicity also have their own contribution to mental illness. Poverty is associated with mental illness and it has been seen that the poor are more likely to suffer from mental illness of any form compared to the rich people in the society. In a similar fashion, those who belong to the lower class have a higher chance of being mentally ill compared to the ones in higher classes as per social stratification. This is an implication of the need for policies and other interventions from the relevant bodies so as to completely win the fight against mental illness.


References


Aneshensel, C., Phelan, J., & Bierman, A. (2012). Handbook of the sociology of mental health. Dordrecht: Springer.


Funk, M., Drew, N., & Knapp, M. (2012). Mental health, poverty, and development. Journal of Public Mental Health, 11(4), 166-185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17465721211289356


Germov, J. (2013). Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology. (5th Ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


Murali, V. (2004). Poverty, social inequality and mental health. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 10(3), 216-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/apt.10.3.216


Pilgrim, D., Pescosolido, B., & Rogers, A. (2011). The SAGE handbook of mental health and illness. Los Angeles: SAGE.


Rogers, A., & Pilgrim, D. (2010). A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.


Scheid, T., & Brown, T. (2010). A handbook for the study of mental health. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


 


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