Today, the problem of poverty persists throughout the world. Traditionally, the problem of poverty was attributed to developing countries, but this problem has never been fully eliminated even in the most developed, richest and most technologically advanced countries. The current economic recession proves the fact that the problem of poverty is still relevant and no one can feel secured from slipping to poverty. At the same time, the problem of poverty engenders a number of other problems, among which it is possible to single out the higher risk of the birth of mentally disabled children among the poor population (Braveman, 188). In fact, children living in poverty stricken neighborhoods are more vulnerable to mental health problems that children living in the middle and upper-class families. In such a context, it is obvious that the prevention of the development of mental health problems heavily relies on the effectiveness of solution of the problem of poverty since a consistent improvement of well-being of people can lead to the improvement of their health both physical and mental.
In actuality, the problem of mental health disability and the problem of poverty are closely intertwined. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that poverty creates favorable conditions for the development of various forms of disability, including mental disabilities (Ross, 104). In order to understand factors which increase the risk of the development of mental health problems in children living in poverty stricken neighborhoods, it is necessary to dwell upon causes of mental health problems. Basically, causes of mental health problems can be divided into major groups: heredity and the impact of environment.
In fact, mental health problems can be inherited by children from their parents, if the family history has family members who had mental health problems. Low income family are particularly vulnerable to the development of mental health problems in children because they can be developed under the impact of problems in health of parents before and during pregnancy. What is meant here is the fact that the use of drugs and alcohol by parents and by mother during pregnancy increases consistently the risk of the development of mental health problems in children. In addition, problems in the development of babies cannot always be diagnosed at the early stages of their development because health care services of the high quality are not available to women living in poverty. Moreover, the nutrition of pregnant women is another factor that influences the health of a new born child.
At the same time, even after the birth children are not totally secured from the development of mental health problems. In fact, babies bring in low income families have a poor nutrition which undermines the immune system and health of babies. In such a situation, they become particularly vulnerable to the contamination with some infectious diseases. Complications caused by such diseases can affect dramatically the mental health of a baby, especially during first months and years of life. In addition, it is worth mentioning the high risk of traumas of children in low income families, which may lead to the development of mental health problems (Szasz, 115). For instance, domestic violence is practically a norm in low income families, while children are subjects to the violent behavior of their parents. As a result, they can go physical traumas which can affect their brain and provoke the development of mental disability.
In such a way, it is obvious that children living in low income families are particularly vulnerable to the development of mental health problems because of the heredity and negative impact of their environment. At the same time, their health problems cannot always be diagnosed at the early stages of their development, while the professional health care and social services are not always available to them (Reid, 97). Therefore, children living in poverty have few opportunities to get effective treatment and professional assistance in case of having mental health problems that means that they are doomed to exclusion and marginalization even within their community, which is already marginalized.
In such a situation, the solution of the mental health problems in children living in poverty stricken neighborhoods is possible only on the condition of the solution of the problem of poverty. In spite of numerous efforts of governments of richest countries of the world, poverty has never been eliminated, but the most developed countries have managed to decrease the poverty substantially. This is why it is possible to search the solution in the field of economy and social programs which can help low income families improve consistently their economic position and social status. What is meant here is the fact that it is important to focus on two major domains: health care services and education. Today, the government and public, non-profitable organizations should unite their efforts to develop health care programs which can prevent mental health problems in children living in low income families (Rae, 177). For instance, it is necessary to examine pregnant women during the pregnancy and provide them with professional consultation of health care professionals concerning basic rules which they should follow during the pregnancy. In addition, women should get financial support to maintain their physical shape during the pregnancy to ensure that the baby will not have any health problems shortly after the birth. It is important to provide health care service free of charge because low income families cannot afford paying for health care services.
Education can also contribute to the solution of the problem of mental health disability in children living in poverty stricken neighborhoods. On the one hand, being educated parents would be more aware of potential risks to the mental health of their children which they can avoid, refusing from taking drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, for instance. On the other hand, education is important in terms of professional career and job opportunities for low income families (Spicker, 69). In fact, it is important to develop educational programs to provide the poor with opportunities to get higher education that will solve their economic problems and health problems as well.
It proves beyond a doubt that the combination of effective health care services and education for low income families can help them to tackle both mental health and poverty problems. The lack of health care services is one of the major causes of the development of mental health problems in children in low income families. The provision of health care services will eliminate the cause of these problems, decreasing the risk of the development of disability in children (Mansell, 125). At the same time, health care services should be free of charge and, what is more, they should be backed up by effective educational programs which can prevent another cause of the development of mental health problems, even though this cause is indirect. In fact, if the poor get an opportunity to get a higher education, they will get better job opportunities. If they are employed at a well-paid job, they improve their standards of living and, therefore, they can minimize environmental threats to the mental health of their children. In addition, education paves the way to the shift of the social status of the poor and opens the way to the middle class, where there is no room for poverty and related problems affecting mental health of children.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the mental health disability is, to a significant extent, determined by the background and socioeconomic environment of children. In this respect, poverty may be an important factor which increases dramatically the risk of the development of mental health problems in children. However, it is worth mentioning the fact that poverty proper does not provoke mental health problems but it creates conditions for their development because of poor standards of living, low quality of health care services, etc. In such a situation, the solution of the problem of mental health disability in children living in poverty stricken neighborhoods can be found only through the elimination of poverty. In this respect, the provision of free of charge health care services to parents and pregnant women as well as their children and the larger education opportunities are the major ways in which both problems, the problem of poverty and mental health disability can be prevented.