How to help pregnant homeless women in the US
An estimated 13 million people in the United States live with chronic mental illness.
While the number of people living with mental illness has been decreasing for decades, that’s still a staggering number for a country where the overall population has doubled over the past 30 years.
And while we’re on the topic of mental health, one of the biggest challenges we have is how to help people who are experiencing the illness.
The US currently has the highest rate of women with mental health issues in the world, and research has shown that mental illness is a major factor in a woman’s decision to seek medical care.
And that’s especially true for women who are struggling financially and are homeless.
“If you’re a woman who is in poverty, you might have no other options other than going to a doctor, because they’re not willing to pay the price for a mental health diagnosis,” said Rebecca Siegel, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“So you’re essentially asking the same questions, and you’re dealing with the same issues.”
Siegel’s research on homelessness found that women who have a history of mental illness are significantly more likely to stay in shelters and emergency rooms, and also that women experiencing homelessness are less likely to seek mental health care, or seek out support groups.
“It’s really hard for these women to find their own way to be healthy, to have a normal life,” Siegel said.
Siegel and her colleagues have found that while homelessness is not the only issue women with a mental illness face, it is one of those issues that is often overlooked.
“It’s one of these things that has been really neglected,” Siegles said.
Siegel’s work has also been featured on MSNBC, CNN, The Drudge Report, NPR, and The Huffington Post.
In addition to her work on homelessness, Siegel has also contributed to a new program called Pregnancy Outreach that aims to support pregnant women and their families during their time of need.
The program is aimed at helping pregnant women who feel like their pregnancies aren’t healthy or are ending too soon, but are also struggling financially, or are having issues with their relationships with their families.
Pregnancy outreach is part of Siegels research into how women’s experiences of mental and physical health can impact their decision-making, and it’s also one of Sauer’s goals for the next two years.
“One of the things that I’m most excited about right now is the impact that this new study has had on my own personal journey,” Sauer said.
“There’s something really powerful about seeing a pregnant woman with a long history of depression and mental illness in this environment, and that’s one I hope to share with the next generation of women.”
Sauer and her team also have plans to continue to study women’s mental health at the local level, looking to see how we can better support pregnant and low-income women, as well as the mental health needs of pregnant women themselves.
For more on homelessness and mental health in America, check out HuffPost’s guide to the issues that plague the nation.
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