Dx: Long Term Stress

Dx: Long Term Stress

The video, Unnatural Causes, drew attention to the economic and racial inequalities that exist in the world today- emphasizing the differences in incomes, living conditions, access to resources, and education between families of different socioeconomic status.

On top of all the stressors mentioned in the video, additional stressors may include having an adequate income to provide for the family (both in terms of food & shelter), being able to afford health care coverage, easy access to health care resources, transportation, insurance costs, and the stress to be able to send your children to school all are factors to adding more stress to people’s daily lives depending on their SES. In terms of class position, individuals with higher SES tend to live in safer neighborhoods, live a more affluent lifestyle, and are less worried about job instability & family income. Not to necessarily say that people at the top don’t face daily pressures in their lives, but that they are more likely to have power and resources to manage those pressures. On the other hand, individuals with lower class positions face greater exposures that can cause even more upset to their daily lives including lack of health insurance, uncontrolled debt, small and compact homes, noisy living conditions, job instability, and unreliable transportation. Social conditions such as the jobs we partake in, the income we receive, the schools we attend, and the neighborhoods we live in all are societal factors that create and reinforce stressors. While some neighborhoods have easy access to healthy, affordable produce, others may only have convenience stores, fast foods, and liquor stores. Additionally, individual behaviors such as smoking, drinking, exercising, and dieting all play a role in impacting our health.

Past and present discrimination has been seen by many people of color in terms of housing, jobs, and education, and has left many of them sitting in the lower half the SES ladder. Racism can impose may health burdens including segregation, social exclusion, stereotyping, access and treatment by the health care system. Inequalities in health from both racial and income disparities have existed for decades and have been the result of decisions that we, as a society, have made, therefore it is up to us to change this- to promote cultural diversity, to become more conscious and aware of our feelings, and to educate ourselves and others around us about this issue.

14 thoughts on “Dx: Long Term Stress

  1. Ivy, I agree with all of the points that you have touched upon. There are many unseen factors and circumstances that play a role in the amount of stress that one person have. Through these conditions, many of the minority groups are segregated into housing separate from the whites. This has caused all sorts of issues ranging from medical care to access to basic resources and quality of food. One big indicator of all of the wealth of these resources is socioeconomic status. The more money you earn, the better off you are. The income level of whites on average tend to be higher than those minority groups. This help elevate the level of segregation and discriminatory practices that occurred up to this point of time.

    Through all of these disparities, what are things that we as a society could do to improve these conditions? Does there need to be big changes and improvements to our current system to fix these huge problems in our health care system?

  2. I liked how you ended your post with a charge to take an action. Racism, conscious or not, has put minority races at a disadvantage across all SES levels and doing nothing will not solve the problem. As future health providers it is important to alleviate as much stress as we can from our patients’ chronically stressed lives. If we treat different races with different standards of care or blame patients for lifestyle choices (such as unhealthy eating) that is outside of their control, we are only adding more stress to their lives.

  3. On an individual level, I think it’s important to both be aware and spread awareness of these health disparities that disproportionately affect minority populations. While living in Ann Arbor, or even within HSSP, it’s easy to feel like the world’s knowledge of this system that favors the white, middle-upperclass citizen is extensive. However, if we take time to step outside of this educated bubble, we see that most people are unaware of these important issues. This could be a reason (or excuse?) for why wealth, race, and environment are largely accurate predictors of health in the United States and have been for some time. In Unnatural Causes, it was mentioned that the monetary gradient that exists in today’s society will never disappear, but that we can certainly work to decrease the size of this gradient. Through policy and/or individual/local support and education, we should work towards this goal tirelessly.

  4. You bring up great points from the Unnatural Causes video. People with lower SES are more susceptible to health problems, and a major component of this is the stress that they have to deal with every day. They constantly have to worry about their income, home, bad influences in the neighborhood, how they will provide food for their families, etc. Individuals with a higher SES do not face these problems. Even if they do encounter stressful situations, they often have resources to manage stress that are not available to those with a lower SES. Also, other disparities in the health field, such as race, can cause further health problems on an individual.

    We, as future health professionals, must take what we learn from this video and apply it to the real world. It is not enough to hear about it then toss it aside. We are aware of the problems occurring in today’s society, and thus have a responsibility to do our best to fix them. To start, we must provide better health services to those with lower incomes. It is also necessary to be active in decreasing the stress of lower SES individuals.

  5. I agree with you completely, Ivy.; the amount of underlying consequences to the level of social stratification and racial barriers are overwhelming. The most eye-opening idea you and the video highlights is the effect of overall stress lower classes/minorities face, and the significant health problems associated with such. In a country where significant upward social mobility is a substantial myth, individuals are left in their respective stressful environments and occupations, with this stress building up to severe levels. It is eye-opening to imagine the limited periods of serious stress we face in our more prosperous lives being the basis of thought and actions for our country’s lower class, as well as for minority groups facing judgement.

    What is most important, however, are the notions of myth embedded in the American Dream that this lesson implies. Our country is corrupt with legitimating rationales for how stratification is fair, mainly because we cannot fathom the changes that would be necessary to eliminate the American underclass suffering from stress and low socioeconomic status. We, as health professionals of tomorrow, but seek to understand these societal imperfections when bettering the lives of our patients, or the lives of those affected by health policy we work to implement.

  6. I really enjoyed your blogpost; it was a good recap of Unnatural Causes. As a potential nurse, I really do not know the ways I can promote more equality in healthcare. When working, I could simply provide the same quality of healthcare for patients of all races and genders, but this would only be treating the surface of the problems people of low SES face. Educating people can spread awareness of the monetary gradient society faces today, but how will this knowledge encourage people to take action? In my mind, I can’t think of any direct or efficient ways we can remedy this growing problem in America. This problem is so large and intimidating; it makes me discouraged even before I begin to think of solutions.

  7. I think that it’s crazy that SES plays such a large role in the quality of healthcare. People from the same city are living up to 10 years longer than people with lower SES because they have less stress. The more control that people have in their lives the longer they tend to live. I agree with you that we need to fix this problem by promoting cultural diversity and becoming more conscious about our feelings. As a nation we need to work together and create a more accepting atmosphere for everyone.

  8. Often when we are asked what has the greatest impact on our health, SES is not something that comes to mind. However, in the video, it was said that SES by far has the greatest impact on our health. I agree that this is an issue that the general public should be more educated on. I think that a having a high SES can blind people from seeing the problems that those with a lower SES can encounter with their health. Since it is a very complicated issue, it is unclear and controversial what the solution is.

  9. Great post Ivy! I completely agree with everything you mentioned. The video completely shed light on this problem that many do not even know exists. Going to the University of Michigan I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by diversity but also feel heavy hearted when I see discrimination occurring first hand.
    SES should not play a role in health care however we see it affecting affecting more than one area of our health care system. Educating individuals and being aware that is exists is the first step in solving this problem, and we need to make sure that the message gets spread.

  10. This is a great analysis of the problem of health disparity itself. Many people don’t take the time to understand the connection between stress and poor health, and even more than that fail to understand why stress is linked to closely to those with low SES (rather than those with high SES and stressful occupations). I liked how you commented on health is dependent on how MANAGEABLE stress is. In society’s eyes a doctor may seem to be more “stressed out” than the old woman working as a cashier at McDonalds, but society doesn’t see the chronic internal burden that this woman may carry. Sure, she may not have the stress of saving lives – but she may have the stress of keeping her own children alive (i.e. keeping food on the table). When it comes down to it, the doctor has the ability to quit if the stress is too consuming, but the person with low SES cannot simply “quit” their debt or the grumbling bellies of their children.

  11. I believe your point about race is especially powerful. There always seems to be some sort of bias against certain races, which causes them to feel a certain stress that caucasian people don’t tend to feel. In order to alleviate some of this stress, health care professionals have to drop their biases and focus on the patients as a human being, and not as a social identity. I grew up in a predominantly white community, so I have never really seen discrimination take shape with my own eyes. However, I can only imagine the constant stress one can be put under when they simply cannot trust their doctor’s due to discrimination.

  12. The point you touched upon about race and the effect racism has on health disparities is really interesting. Not too long ago, we talked about the syphilis trials that clearly targeted black men. Because of these trials, African Americans, such as my grandfather, completely distrust medical professionals. Because of the history that America has with racism, this has caused immense stress on the African American community who question whether or not they are really receiving the best care possible without any racial biases affecting their treatment. As we have seen, these worries are not in vain and also add more health problems from the overwhelming stress. Just recently, I have seen a few studies where African American patients felt stigmatized or discriminated against while receiving medical treatment, resulting in many of them refusing medical health services. This is why medical professionals must continue to be trained in minimizing actions of discrimination or stigmatization to better the health of the black community.

  13. I fully agreed with the point that we need to educate ourselves more about this issue in order to actually improve the inequality and narrow the gaps we have in our society right now. Most of the time people tend to think that the world they live in the the majority of the society and feel like all the disparities and poors appeared on media are very rare and far from them. Lack of education in terms of social economic status and cultural diversity might lead to indifference and ignorance, which for sure does not help solving the issues we are facing right now.

  14. I can relate to what @gracech said. Even if I do join the medial field someday, there are so many problems of which I do not feel that I could really help just being a clinical doctor. One of these is the inequality that exists in health care among different races and classes. However, as much as I want to help fix the disparities, I am unsure that I would be able to come with practical solutions to this problem. I think that these disparities are something that can only be fixed with time, as the medical field continues to breed its successors as understanding, open, and smart individuals.

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