One of the biggest ways your location can impact your mental health is how easy or hard it is to access the things you need. This includes healthy food, safe outdoor space, quality medical care, and publication transportation (which still may not get you where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time even when you do have access).
Because local income taxes usually fund public services, low-income areas are often under-resourced in quality education, road maintenance, community programs, and more, which can make it difficult for people to meet their basic needs. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other marginalized communities often feel these strains the hardest.
- Roughly 6% of people in the U.S. live in a food desert, which is an area with limited options to get affordable and healthy food. Food deserts often lead to food insecurity, which is associated with increased stress and depression. In young adults, food insecurity often co-occurs with suicidal thoughts and substance use.
- Each year, 3.6 million people in the U.S. go without health services because they don't have a car, access to public transportation, or another way to get to appointments.
What can you do to get access?
- Get to know your neighbors. The people living around you can be a big help when you need something. You can support each other with carpools, running errands, or sharing resources.
- Connect with a group in your area where community members share and exchange services. You may be able to find an organized mutual aid program, or you can search for a local Facebook or NextDoor group focused on community support.