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Poverty And Healthcare. Essay

1684 words - 7 pages

The aim of this assignment will be to explore poverty and how it influences peoples understanding of healthcare. I will be focussing on mental health clients and welfare benefits. I will aim to define poverty, discuss the effects it has on my client group, and their perception of healthcare. For reasons of confidentiality, pseudonyms will be used for any client referred to in this assignment.Poverty then, for most people, according to Hallawell & Brittle (1995), is a condition to which most of us strive to avoid, an unacceptable concept which is far removed from modern day living, and only affects 3rd World countries or was from past eras. Poverty is a term with negative connotations, associated with words such as deprivation and lack. Being poor is to lack what others - the 'comfortable' possess. It is a stain or stigma on an individuals or social group's identity ( Brooking, Ritter and Thomas 1992).There are two categories of poverty - absolute and relative poverty. Both these definitions have an adverse influence on an individuals health. (Calman 1997) Absolute, as defined by Walsh Stephens and More (1999) is basic human needs in terms of shelter, clothing and food. Anything less than minimum standard needed to live on, was said to be below the 'poverty line', and living in absolute poverty. Poverty is used here to indicate a fixed and minimum set of basic resources which all individuals are said to require in order to physically sustain life. This definition however, appears rather narrow in relation to social problems as highlighted by Bephage (1997), who argues that what is considered as basic needs in one society, may not always be appropriate in another society, because cultural needs differ according to the society lived in. Relative poverty which is given as an alternative to absolute, according to Bephage (1997) is applied to individuals whose living conditions are far lower than the rest of their society. This poverty is comparable in nature, and usually compares one group of individuals against another, in terms of income levels, or social position.Who does poverty affect? The term is used to identify an individual's social and economic position. An individual may find themselves in this situation for one of many reasons such as low social class, unemployment, culture, education and also the environment, these concepts may reinforce the problem of poverty. ( Baggott 1998)Individuals with mental health problems are not immune from this situation, and in fact are one of the most impoverished and isolated groups in society that is, according to a survey which was published last year (An Uphill Struggle 2001). The survey illustrated the severity of the problems faced by these individuals, summarising that they are doubly disadvantaged by their illness and their poverty. Trying to survive on a low income is difficult enough, and when you have mental health problems, it is even tougher. Facing stigma and discrimination on a daily basis...

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