Guest Column: Mental health is health. The house you live in matters more than you think. | Opinion

 Guest Column: Mental health is health. The house you live in matters more than you think. | Opinion


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and where we live affects our health more than you think. A good, inexpensive home is more than just a structure. It directly affects emotional and physical health. With one in four people in Northeast Texas living in poor, dangerous, high-cost or overcrowded homes, home security and its connection to mental health need our attention.

The Centers for Disease Control cites housing as one of the six leading social health injuries. Low -income people, people of color and the elderly are more likely to experience adverse effects. People with low incomes are more likely to live in areas with mold, pollutants, lead, poor sanitation, inadequate ventilation and exposure to elements from structural damage. These homes are often located in high poverty, lack of resources, or high crime rates, which contribute to increased stress, low self-esteem, and higher social isolation and incidents of depression. .

The cost of housing can create a financial burden for the household, too. Paying more than 30 percent of your monthly income for rent and utilities means there aren’t enough dollars left over for health care, home repairs or moving to a better environment. Excessive congestion can contribute to sleep disorders and relationship difficulties and reduce successful educational outcomes for children. Of the one in four NE Texas residents mentioned earlier, one in seven of them is severely burdened by paying more than 50 percent of their monthly income for the roof of their head.

By making homes safe and affordable, we can achieve living environments that are conducive, and can promote self-confidence and financial peace. Cheap and safe homes ensure that the home has the financial means to seek medical and mental health care when they need it, make repairs and save for emergencies or education to improve skills. at work.

A size that fits all government programs will not solve America’s housing crisis.

While it is true that there are programs today to help low-income tenants and buyers, they are not nearly as likely to meet demand. Currently, there are only thirty -five subsidized units available to every one hundred households experiencing housing poverty. And the stock continues to decline faster than it can replace.

Deliberately investing in healthy and affordable homes can improve lives and the communities that drive them. To make a difference:

Support nonprofit housing organizations in creating safe and affordable housing solutions.

Advocacy for legislation that invests more in neighborhood revitalization and affordable living.

Endorse incentives to developers or local jurisdictions that adopt new methods to build faster, cheaper or more sustainably.

Create effective lending products that enable home ownership to be available to reliable low-income lenders.

Finally, friends, if you or someone you know is in crisis or has experienced lasting feelings of hopelessness, anger or depression, you don’t have to fight it alone. Talk to a trusted friend, counselor, mental health professional or one of the organizations below. You can also visit namitexas.org for a large list of organizations that offer free, confidential assistance.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) (Mon-Fri 10a-10p, ET), [email protected], Text NAMI at 741-741- 24/7, Live Chat at nami.org -24/ 7

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and dial 1

National Youth in Crisis Hotline: 1-800-442-LAUM (4673)

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Suicide Assistance): 1-866-488-7386, Text (202) 304-1200

– LaJuan Gordon is the Chief Executive Officer of Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity, serving Gregg, Harrison, and Upshur counties.



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