Can Money Actually Help Your Mental Health?

Can Money Actually Help Your Mental Health?

Let's analyze the correlation between low income and mental health.

Ahh, the age-old philosophical question of whether or not money can fulfill a person's life. Of course it cannot, I mean, the only thing that can fulfill your life is love and God and doing good in the world.

That person must have never been broke.

I've done some hard hitting research through mental health in relation to socioeconomic welfare to try to analyze whether money can actually buy happiness. Of course, the knee-jerk reaction is no, it cannot, but why is it that people with lower levels of income are seemingly less happy (on the whole) than people who aren't struggling for their rent, or their next meal.

So the first thing that comes into play when discussing happiness is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. We have probably all been made familiar with this chart through either psychology or health classes. At the bottom of the pyramid, there are things you need to survive, such as shelter, food and water. As you climb the pyramid, you require more and more to become truly self-actualized (the realization or fulfillment of one's talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need that is present in everyone).

Things like love, sense of self, and pride are higher on the pyramid, because in nature we need to take care of surviving before we can love, and love before we can be self actualized (I'm paraphrasing this concept by a lot, but I think we all at least somewhat understand).

If a person cannot afford to pay rent, or feed themselves or their children, they use a lot of energy on those things, versus people who don't have to worry about it, and instead focus on being happy, or self-aware. For this reason, money can in fact buy happiness.

There is also a legitimate health risk to having less money. We all know the salad at McDonald's is about $5 whereas a burger is $1.12, and that's a big contributing factor as to why people who have less money are in worse shape (typically). Healthy food costs more money, and if your options are either not eating or eating a greasy burger, I think it's obvious what the choice is. The worse you eat, the worse you feel, and the less happy you are.

Aside from the cost of food, you also have to analyze things like money to own a gym membership, or time to use a gym. The more hours someone needs to work to make ends meet, the less time they have to focus on working out and recharging themselves mentally, which in turn can make someone's emotional tension build up quite a bit. Prescriptions and mental health treatment is also something low income people often go without. Healthcare is expensive without insurance, and without insurance, "extra" things like therapy and doctors visits are the first to go.

Stress can wear on a person's happiness to the point of developing problems such as depression, anxiety, or even eating disorders. "Happiness" may be hard to define, especially universally, but basic things such as the willingness to be healthy and motivated are decent measuring sticks of happiness as a starting point. It can be impossible to be truly happy solely through means of finances, but it sure is a good place to start.

Merriam-Webster has several definitions of happiness, including prosperity, good fortune, and contentment. If someone is unable to feed their family or live in a safe home, how would they be able to say they are prospering, have good fortune or are content?

People who are happy are productive members of society, and are statistically more likely to have better approval ratings at their place of work and do well in school. We as a nation should prioritize a better society, and that's why our government regulates things like welfare, and section nine housing.

Money can buy security. Money can buy a full stomach and a roof over your head. Money can buy therapy and doctor's visits. Money can buy safety. Happiness is made up of these things, and many more that can't be achieved before these, and therefore, money buys happiness.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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To The Man Who Catcalled Me

You've probably already forgotten about me, but I can't forget about you.

Dear Asshole,

First of all, screw you.

I don't know you, but you tried talking to me anyway.

You thought you had a right to raise your voice and call to me--as if I'm a dog, as if I should listen when you speak. You don't deserve my attention.

Unfortunately, I heard every word that passed through your lips.

You went out of your way to make me feel small. I pretended not to hear what you said, but I carried it with me the entire way home.

You probably forgot about it, but your words echoed in my ears for hours. Your stupid comment caused me more pain than I'd like to admit.

How dare you take a few seconds of your life to waste hours of mine.

You made me feel dirty in my own skin.

I went home and didn't want to look at myself in the mirror because all I could feel was shame.

I wondered if I could've done something differently to avoid you--wore less makeup, maybe; anything to avoid comments like yours.

It's not me that's the problem, though. It's you. What kind of man behaves the way that you did? Your words were hurtful, whether or not you intended them to be.

You took my self-confidence and my peace of mind away from me in a matter of seconds.

Before you, I felt good.

I wasn't doing anything to deserve your attention--I was just waiting at a traffic light.

It doesn't matter what I was doing, really. You had no reason to call out to me, to speak to me with no regard for my humanity, but you did it anyway.

You've probably already forgotten about me, but I can't forget about you.

The amount of time I've spent thinking about what you said is far more than you deserve.

You don't deserve a letter. You deserve a kick in the balls.

Regardless, this is a message for you, or men like you, who think that catcalling complete strangers is okay.

Attention all assholes:

I am female, but that does not mean that I am fragile.

My body is not yours. It is no one else's. It is mine.

Sexualizing my body is not a compliment.

I am more than a body. I am a person. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a lover.

I don't deserve to be talked to like a piece of meat.

I am not here for your pleasure.

I am tired of being just a body. Women are tired of being just bodies. We are more than that--we are smart, we are strong, we are worthy of respect.

If you cannot speak to women with respect, you do not deserve to speak at all.

I hope you think about what you said, even for a moment.

I hope you never speak to another woman the way you spoke to me.

I hope you realized something from this experience, like I did.

Because you catcalled me, I remembered my worth.

Sincerely,

A Woman Who's Tired Of This Shit

Cover Image Credit: Nicole Borneman

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I'm Headed Back To The Water

Water Is Home. Just Dive In.

When I was a little girl my grandfather and mama taught me how to swim. I fell in love with the water and frankly, swimming was something I excelled at. They taught me how to swim before I could walk. Once I was a little bit older my parents quickly enrolled me in Red Cross swim lessons at a local pool. By the age of four I was swimming on a summer league team, and by eight, I was swimming competitively year round.

The water is where I feel at home. I’m not clumsy or awkward. I move fluidly with strength and speed. When I’m in the water, the world disappears. I get to be in my own head, working towards a goal while not worrying about my surroundings. So, I’m headed back to the water.

I know I will not be swimming the way I once did. I’m not looking to be a competitive swimmer again. I have no desire to wake up before the crack of dawn to hop in an icy cold pool. I’m going back to the water to find myself again. To find the girl who had a lot more confidence than I currently do. To find the girl who trusted her body to make the right movements and get her to where she needed to be. I’m looking to find the physical strength and endurance I once had that has since been lost.

When in the water, I feel safe because of the confidence I have in my ability, but also because I trust my body. I’ve never been scared that I would drown because I knew my body would get me back to the wall or would automatically bring me to the surface. I don’t place the same trust in my body while on land. I’m much more clumsy; it doesn't matter if I’m walking or running. I’ve fallen down the stairs, up the stairs, and tripped over my own feet.

When I stopped swimming, I lost myself. I think it’s time I find myself again.

Cover Image Credit: Maxwell Gifted on Unsplash

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