Part I: Health and Wealth – Taking stock
U.S. citizen health and wealth depends on where you sit. If you are a Katrina survivor, your mental health is more at risk. And the Census Bureau’s reported slight rise in median family income is deceptive. And 15.9% of our citizens have no health care insurance, an increase over the previous year. Things are not rosy for all of us.
Mental Health – A new Harvard study found that Katrina survivors have double the rate of serious mental illness than before the storm. But suicidality among them decreased. Reuters reports on the study, from which I quote,
Hurricane Katrina doubled the rate of serious mental illness in areas ravaged by the storm but the urge to commit suicide fell, partly because survivors bonded with each other, a Harvard-led study said on Monday. . . about 200,000 people from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi face serious mental illness because of Katrina, with about a third suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and the remainder depression, said Ronald Kessler, the study’s lead researcher.
Nearly 85 percent of the survivors faced a major financial, income, or housing loss, and more than a third endured extreme physical adversity after Katrina struck a year ago and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, the survey showed. Nearly 23 percent encountered extreme psychological adversity. . . Kessler, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, said the number of people reporting a desire to kill themselves declined, in part because many survivors had forged stronger ties with loved ones and their community.
“We found an extraordinarily high proportion of our sample who said that despite the understandable sadness with all they lost and the understandable anxieties about the future … that they felt closer to their loved ones, they felt connected to the community in a way they didn’t before,” he said.
“They felt much more religious, they felt that they had a purpose in their life and a meaning,” he said, noting that 88.5 percent of the survivors in the survey said Katrina had helped them develop a deeper sense of meaning or purpose in life.
“Those are the people where these suicidal tendencies decreased,” he said.
Gov’t says “Get help” – SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), through a public service campaign, is urging the survivors to seek mental health services.
The U.S. Census Bureau issues a report every year. It came out yesterday. Read it all in the Census Report (pdf-86 pgs), “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005.” The New York Times has good coverage of the new census report. It begins,
The nation’s median household income rose slightly faster than inflation last year for the first time in six years, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.
The rise, however, had little to do with bigger paychecks — in fact, both men and women earned less in 2005 than 2004. Rather, census officials said, more family members were taking jobs to make ends meet, and some people made more money from investments and other sources beyond wages.
Uninsured rate up: Census Bureau – The Catholic Health Association, according to Medical News Today, wants more attention on the part of the report that indicates the number of uninsured persons is still on the rise. Quoting from the story,
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA’s president and chief executive officer, noted that “while the annual ritual of fixating on the latest census data prompts a flash of attention or brief debate of the statistics, the exercise can leave many numb to what the data really represents — women, men, and children, who daily live without accessible and affordable health care. This is intolerable.”
While the latest estimate of nearly 47 million uninsured reflects an increase to 15.9
percent of the population, there are several discouraging factors found in the Census Bureau report. Despite ongoing initiatives to enroll children in the SCHIP program, 8.3 million (11.2 percent) of children continue to be uninsured. And a review of the Census figures shows a continuing decline in employer-sponsored coverage.
In “The State of the Nation – Part II,” I will examine another malady, the state of our Nation’s leadership.
My current “creative post” at Southwest Blogger is about precious stones.