Chronic Stressors

Chronic Stressors

The video Unnatural Causes delved deeper into issues that have been in the media and the public eye a lot more often than usual lately. The politics surrounding healthcare are confusing, but this video explained healthcare disparities in a detailed yet comprehensible fashion. One of the most important parts of this video was its description of chronic stressors. It described that although everyone is affected by stress, the level of pressure felt depends on the person’s power, control, and access to resources to manage stressors. This reminded of a TED Talk I recently attended given by the Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department, Abdul El-Sayed. He discussed how he recently advised an African American woman living in a Detroit neighborhood to start eating healthier and taking daily walks. She responded that there wasn’t a grocery store with healthy food she could make herself within walking distance (since she didn’t have a car), so she had to eat fast food everyday. She also said that since she works two jobs, she doesn’t get home until 7pm each evening, by which time it’s too dark to walk in her unsafe neighborhood. This is the kind of systematic disadvantage that so many of people of color have to deal with everyday. It’s so easy for people not in this class position to simply say “exercise more” or “eat healthier”, but so much more impractical to actually put into practice. With these circumstances, it’s difficult to know where to even begin to try fix this. My question to you all is what kind of policies do you think we can enforce to try to eliminate health disparities? What is the first step?

15 thoughts on “Chronic Stressors

  1. I kind of already knew about everything that was discussed in the video because I know from first hand experience that living an unhealthy life isn’t always a choice. However, I would have to disagree because in these few months/ years I cant recall seeing anything about food deserts. I also feel that its not just people of color who are facing such disparities. Simply because the majority of the population on food stamps or government aid as stated in the video were white. The first step in my opinion be to bring back urban gardening and create a sense of community. As stated in the video many people walk in groups and don’t venture out of there neighborhoods because they are afraid.

  2. I thought that Unnatural Causes brought up some very interesting points about different policies and how they affect people of differing socioeconomic levels. One that I thought was very interesting was zoning laws that deal with where fast food restaurants can be located. I think implementing policies that limit the amount of fast food available in lower income areas, but provide incentives for grocery stores with access to healthy food options to locate there could be beneficial. Also, trying to improve safety in neighborhoods would be very beneficial. This could include better lighting or more of a security presence.

  3. I never thought about the larger picture, or chain, that plays a role in health disparities. In the documentary we watched, they highlighted the fact that people with a lower socioeconomic status experience more stressors and therefore have poorer health. For example, people with a lower socioeconomic status may live in a more dangerous neighborhood and deal with a lot of stress about their well-being, they may work low-income jobs where they have little to no control over what their day looks like and face stress through that, they may have to opt for inexpensive and in turn less healthy food options, etc. All of these stressors come together to cause people to be more susceptible to various health risks that they have little control over preventing due to the conditions they live with. The first step to eliminate these kinds of health disparities is to ease these stressors somehow. Stores, or “fast food” restaurants can be opened in poor neighborhoods that only provide cheaper and healthier food. Actions like these can help slowly ease the effects of the stressors.

  4. I thought that it was interesting that these people living in poorer areas do not have access to almost essential things such as healthy grocery stores or a place to exercise. I also agree that people not in this lower class are able to understand the drastic disadvantages that these people face. I grew up around many grocery/health stores and gyms and lived in a safe area that it was ok for me to go out at night without being worried. These people, unfortunately, do not have the leisure to do these things that many people seemingly take for granted.
    As for policies to help eliminate disparities between the social classes, I think a good starting point would be to have decent grocery stores in these poorer parts of town. Although it will be very hard to change the crime rates and pricing of the food, at least, to start out, these people will have access to healthier food and won’t have to rely on fast food every day and night.

  5. It is shocking to realize that many people who are stuck with lower standards of living truly at stuck. It is not that they cannot find a way out, they physically cannot afford to live better lives. Everyone is swamped with all kinds of jobs and responsibilities. I have been able to live a good life with all these resources around me and for my family.
    One idea could be to somehow make healthier options more affordable for everyone. There are many people who aspire to live better lives, but cannot afford it.

  6. It is very upsetting to know that there are families who are struggling and living in poverty. People tend to ignore it or just not pay much attention to it. I think the first step is to realize that there are many individuals who wish to get out of the poverty level, but cannot do it alone or might need some assistance. Assistance should be given in which people can go and get help on how to better their lives financially and physically. People who are struggling tend to live in the poorer areas and these areas shouldn’t be ignored, but helped get out of the dump. Everyone deserves to eat healthy and have a stable life, but sometimes it is hard due to the lack of attention these neighborhoods /communities receive.

  7. I believe that the first critical and fundamental step that the nation needs to take is better education. Health disparities are caused by institutional factors; thus, mitigating disparities is a long process that involves many parties. In order to get everyone to take action and make the changes that need to be made, they first need to be aware of the disparities. I can say from personal experience that I didn’t know that socially-perpetuated health disparities was a prevalent issue in the US until I learned about them in my Women’s Health Studies and HSSP class. With that being said, what would have happened if I didn’t take any health classes in college? I would probably continue to be unaware of the causes of these disparities, and may even contribute to reinforce the disparities (ie. believing that people with bad health determined their own health circumstances). I also believe that more education about this topic is necessary because if those who are disadvantaged by health disparities aren’t aware of the fact that the problem lies in their social institution, then they will blame themselves. This traps them in an inescapable loop. By turning to a more sociological perspective and spreading more awareness, we can take our first step towards better public health.

  8. I think the first step is eliminating the notion that people choose to be poor or unhealthy. It is common for people to know about these inequalities, yet be strongly misguided in their beliefs as to why these disparities exist. Many times, poverty is a cycle. It starts in childhood and repeats throughout one’s adult life. For many people who suffer from these issues, it is not as simple as a walk in the park or eating more vegetables. For so many, they do not even recognize that they are struggling. Nothing changes unless something changes, and right now the only the changing is the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor. Until those with more privilege start to care about the lives of the impoverished nothing will happen.

  9. I believe the video did a great job of explaining the health disparities in terms that the majority of people could understand. I believe it’s pretty common knowledge that everyone has stress, but it might not be as common to think about how having the resources to handle these stressors affects people. I believe most people would believe that people with more resources would have better health, or better ways to handle these stressors if you asked them. Your example of the Detroit woman really made me realize just how many factors can go into someone’s health. The fact that she didn’t have a store within walking distance but she did have fast food restaurants made me wonder if these fast food restaurants are specifically targeting these people that can’t get to stores. To answer your question, I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate health disparities 100% in today’s society. A good first step would be making sure everyone got the necessary treatment and resources they need. Even then though health disparities would still exist. It would take a lot of policies to completely eliminate disparities.

  10. I think the first step this problem is quite simple. Bring grocery stores back to urban areas. Being from Detroit, when we go grocery shopping as a family we go to the suburbs. The main grocery stores like Kroger and Meijer are not located actually in the city. These businesses are so afraid to bring their business to the city for various reasons, which are all pretty dumb in my opinion. Therefore, people that don’t have access to grocery stores are stuck getting food from the fast food restaurants on every block and the corner stores at the end of every street. I see this every day. When I was a kid, there were Farmer Jack’s located all throughout the city and this grocery store was where everyone got there food from, but now there is no big chain of stores all throughout the city, accessible for everyone. Therefore, there should be a policy that there are a certain amount of actual grocery stores in the city. People argue that thats not practical because of the poverty levels, but you’d be surprised at how many people would shop at Kroger or Meijer in the city if there were one, regardless of economic status.

  11. I agree, it’s easy for people not in a lower class position to say people should just exercise more and eat healthier. The problem behind this is the lack of access to the time, money, and resources to do things that are “healthy” for people in this class. Some people suggested to make more groceries stores available in poorer areas to provide access to healthy food for people in lower classes. While this allows people like the African American woman Deepthi mentioned, get to grocery stores if they don’t have a car, it is still more expensive and time consuming to buy fresh food or healthy food and vegetables to cook in comparison to fast food. Despite this, I think it would still be helpful to put grocery stores in these areas. Although it won’t completely eliminate the disparity, it would be a step in the right direction. Similarly, maybe putting outdoor public parks/gyms. When I went to Hawaii, I was astonished when I saw what looked to be a playground containing things that you could use to work out in. A circular pathway imitating a gym would be an easy thing to put in. However, it also contained pull-up bars, crunch benches, and basic exercise equipment cemented to the ground. In addition to these resources, there were also directions on how to use each station. Again, it wouldn’t completely solve the problem of health disparities and it may be a hard thing to instill in many different communities, but it is a possible step that could be taken in the right direction.

  12. I think that since people from a lower SES have so many more problems on their plates than do people from more affluent backgrounds, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not a priority. All of the stressors in their lives take up the grater park of their efforts and do not allow them to focus on their own health and wellness. As social class goes up, resources for dealing with stress increase and the amount of stressors and the inverse applies as you go down the social ladder. The video we watched in lecture did a great job displaying these disparities as they visited different districts. I think accessibility to resources and healthier food is the key to improve the health of people from lower socioeconomic statuses. A big part of why health disparities exist across the social classes is simply due to accessibility. When resources aren’t available, it is highly unlikely that people will go out of their way to obtain them. This being said, I think there should be a policy that calls for a certain amount of grocery stores and health facilities for a every certain amount of people.

  13. Additional stressors can be the security of the environment these individuals stay in, the depression of their living situation, if they are going to school and getting an education while working and providing for their children, family and relationship issues. The exposure to these stressors vary greatly throughout the different social classes. Although some stressors such as worrying about children, and family issues can happen in the richest or the poorest neighborhoods; some of these stressors only happen mainly in the poor communities, communities filled with minorities and low income individuals. These stressors include being nervous and on guard due to the environment that they live in. The exposure to crime. Those that live in better neighborhoods and gated community do not have to worry nearly as much as those in the worse of communities and parts of the city. Or having little control at work. These individuals have little control at work because they do not have as much education as their higher-ups, and so they are treated us such. They are given the jobs starting at the bottom of the social pyramid. They are not CEO’s and making decisions, but are getting told what to do and how to do their job. The society helps create these forces because there are not many people who are trying to change the way that things are. The rich are continuously getting richer and passing their riches on to the generations to come, and the poor are remaining stable or getting poorer and trying to teach the next generations how not to end up in such a situation. Racism comes into play when individuals that come from bad communities actually try to better their circumstances. By going to school, getting a better education, and trying to get a job; but they are denied a job that they are qualified for due to the color of their skin or where they come from. Also there is a stereotype that is over certain races due to the fact that many CEO’s are white males, while many of the people in these bad communities that do not have the high paying jobs are African American men and women. But there are exception among both sides.

  14. It’s unfair that people of color/lower SES are more at risk for these health issues-especially given that it’s not their choice most of the time. That being said, it would be very difficult to eliminate these disparities. However, I do think that we can start by creating more community between this group of people and leading them to gain more social support. As we learned before, a great support system is a social determinate of your overall health. By doing so, we can help establish greater trust between these groups and the medical community, as well.

  15. Your point made about the advice that is always given to stressed and unhealthy people to simply eat healthier and exercise a little every day is blinded by so many. There are so many people that are fortunate enough to be raised in a family where these things are easier to do. Where there is the actual resources and time to do these things. There are so many times where we disregard the fact that some people really don’t have access to a healthier lifestyle. This makes it extremely difficult in solving these issues of improving one’s health and ultimately life. I feel like a great policy that should take place is to create health facilities that are accessible to all people. This would be a great place to start in improving health and it would also be great if they were able to provide healthier foods also.

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