As the economic crisis gathered steam last year, Americans became increasingly stressed out and experienced worsened mental health — a trend that continues today, according to a landmark Gallup-Healthways poll out this week. This the first paragraph in a US News and World Report article about eh impact of the worsening economy on mental health in the nation. The article goes on to say Hispanics are suffering more than other ethnic groups. Depression increases smoking and drinking and discourages exercise; it also raises the risk of heart disease. Although women overall have higher depression rates than men, Hispanic women have the highest rates of all women, says Caroline Clauss-Ehlers of Rutgers University, a bilingual psychologist who counsels many Hispanic families in New York. Latinos take great pride in caring well for their families, "and if you're the mother, and the family isn't doing well, a lot of the women feel they're to blame," she says. The mental health system in Texas and across the nation is undergoing budget cuts just when we need these services the most. Even if lower-income people seek counseling for recession-related stress, they may have to wait a long time or never get help, says a report on public mental-health services out Wednesday that suggests one reason why poorer adults may be sinking in emotional well-being as the economy worsens.
All this has a dramatic impact on the children in these families. Stress breeds stress. Kids get anxious and feel threatened and insecure. Kids communicate their feelings through behaviors, which can add to the already mounting stress. Now is the time for people to reach out and help each other. Watch your friends and neighbors. Let them know there is help for most every problem, but they have to talk to someone. Child abuse could very well skyrocket during this crisis. As we hear the news getting worse and worse, perhaps we need to look beyond the numbers in the bank account and look to the people we see every day. Take some time to listen, to hear what people are saying. reach out a hand of support and take a little extra time with children. An angry child may really be hungry. They may be the first clue to a family in distress. We are a Nation built on hope. Hope starts with each and every one of us, right here , right now. Be someone's ray of hope today.