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.
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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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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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No, PrEP Shouldn't Be Used As A Replacement For Condoms

PrEP has signified a whole new level of options for safer sex. But should guys trust it enough to give up condoms?

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For over thirty years, medical experts have been searching for a cure to the AIDS virus. While a cure still hasn't seen the light of day, a new prescription drug has provided another option for safer sex.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the daily dosage of Truvada®, a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine (two HIV medicines). It can only be prescribed by a health care professional and is intended for those at a higher risk for contracting HIV.

"Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%," according to the CDC website. "Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%."

With such a bold, new development in HIV prevention, it obviously arises debate from all sides. One of the most interesting questions to come up since the arrival of PrEP, is whether or not it can be used instead of a condom. The CDC website clears this up as well, stating that the risk lowers, even more, when PrEP is combined with condoms.

Upon hearing this, one might wonder why an individual would take such a risk by not using a condom. It is often said that sex without a condom feels better. I can understand this point, but I think an important question needs to be asked in response. That question being, is a one-time hookup with someone you care very little for worth the risk? If God forbid you contracted HIV from a casual encounter, would you honestly feel that it was worth it? Would you kick yourself for not going a bit further and making sure all your bases were covered?

The Zakar Twins mentioned another reason some men don't want to use condoms in addition to PrEP. In their podcast, MyTwin Chat, they claim it is such a hassle to put on a condom and often kills the mood. This is a point that I have a hard time taking seriously. In the eighties and nineties, condoms were the only option people had to protect themselves. Yet, they still managed to have plenty of hot sex using them.

A claim like this also reeks of laziness and unawareness. Real life is not like a porn scene. So many things can happen during sex that can kill the mood, even without a condom. Sometimes shit happens, literally and figuratively. One partner might need to switch positions because they're uncomfortable. Maybe one partner has to stop to use the bathroom. Sex can be clumsy sometimes and it's often imperfect. This is a reality we can't avoid.

Young gay men of today are quite disconnected from the struggles gay men went through in the years when AIDS was called "gay cancer." People in their twenties don't know what it feels like to watch all of their friends die one by one. They don't know what it feels like to be told on their deathbed that they deserve this because they chose a devilish lifestyle. They don't know what it feels like to fight for treatment and medical testing. All we know is a world where AIDS is no longer a death sentence and hookups are at our literal fingertips. So it's no surprise to me that many people take that progress for granted. Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? No.

We should have all our bases covered before engaging in a sexual act. We should have the self-worth to turn someone down if they're not on board with that. We should remember how we got to where we are today and not take it for granted. Self-care, self-worth, and self-reflection. Those are three simple tools to enrich your life as well as your sex life.

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