Do you think education, occupation, income and wealth, and environment have anything in common?
If it occurred to you that they’re all socioeconomic factors, then you’re right. Whether we like it or not, our lives and society are heavily affected by these socioeconomic factors. After all, these factors got their name because of their effects on social and economic structures.
These factors can even work to influence others. People who are born wealthy may have greater access to quality educational and work opportunities.
They can also affect our physical and mental health. Those with a stable income or are wealthy can handle these health problems in a better way.
In this article, we’re focusing on how socioeconomic factors affect counseling. These factors have either a positive or a negative effect on the outcomes, accessibility, and even the viability of counseling.
The following sections will extensively explain the roles of socioeconomic factors in counseling.
Socioeconomic Factors And The Viability Of Counseling
The first role of socioeconomic factors lies in how it affects the viability of counseling. Unfortunately, counseling being a viable option is still heavily guided by the present stigma.
In popular culture, you can still hear characters referring to counselors as a “shrink.” This term presently has an endearing connotation. However, it has a negative history. In the past, therapists and counselors were called “shrinks” as slang for “headshrinker.”
Sadly, this stigma continues among many communities today. Some people still view mental health problems in a negative light. Thus, some may be punishing and dismissive of seeking mental health treatments like counseling. Those who aren’t negative remain indifferent.
Because of this stigma, people who want and need mental health services often experience the following:
- Bullying or harassment
- Poor understanding from supposed support systems
- Reduced access to educational and work opportunities
These usually happen in communities that receive little to no education about mental health.
In the workplace setting, there are several misconceptions about counseling, perpetuating the stigma. Some people may even avoid acknowledging their mental health problems as it can decrease their chances of employment.
Luckily, as with the term “shrink,” many are unlearning the past and are changing their mindset about counseling. With proper education and support, counseling can become a viable option for anyone.
But there is also such a thing called “self-stigma.” Self-stigma is where a person has an internalized negative prejudice about their need for counseling. Instead of seeking the help they need, they may instead actively avoid treatment.
Self-stigma can also make someone feel like they aren’t going to get better. Combine this with the reluctance to get help can develop into a never-ending cycle of worsening symptoms.
A person should have a positive and understanding environment for counseling to be a sound option for someone. A positive environment can then help shape individual minds, thus diminishing self-stigma.
Socioeconomic Factors And The Accessibility To Counseling
Next, socioeconomic factors affect how accessible counseling is. Like many other healthcare services, counseling and therapy require money. People seeking counseling should at least have a stable financial income to pay for the treatment.
Disadvantaged people, including those without a college degree and who have lower income, have less accessibility to counseling. One study estimates that only 15% of poor children in need of mental health services receive proper treatment. This may be because they live in rural areas and may have to travel long distances to receive treatment. They are also less likely to have insurance premiums which hinder them from seeking even decent treatment.
Aside from financial accessibility, time constraints are also imposed by socioeconomic factors. Lower educational attainment means that you are more likely to get a lower-income job. Their income may be insufficient to maintain their costs of living.
These disadvantaged people often work more hours or even juggle numerous jobs. The more hours they spend working, the less time they have to schedule an appointment with a counselor.
The best way to solve this inaccessibility would be to address the socioeconomic barriers at their roots. Some useful steps include improving access to education and more humane job opportunities.
At the same time, counseling should also be made more accessible to the disadvantaged population. Some governments have also launched programs to make mental health services more accessible.
Socioeconomic Factors And Counseling Outcomes
Lastly, socioeconomic factors play a role in the outcomes of counseling. A recent study shows a poor correlation between income and counseling outcomes. However, these same studies report a significant gap when it comes to motivation towards positive outcomes.
Disadvantaged people also often experience a greater level of distress. They might develop anger issues because of their threatening environment. They may also feel more hopeless due to their perceived situations. These people often require more intensive counseling approaches due to the greater level of distress they initially experience.
Socioeconomic factors also affect a person’s compliance with counseling tasks. For example, a counselor may suggest taking time to meditate in a safe and quiet space. A disadvantaged person may not be able to achieve this simple task because of poor housing spaces.
Some counselors may perceive this noncompliance as disobedience instead of a result of unfortunate circumstances. Counselors need to recognize the roles of socioeconomic factors when treating their patients.
Our discussion only proves how socioeconomic factors affect counseling in many ways. Workplace and cultural environments may dictate how you view counseling. These environments can also instill self-stigma, preventing you from getting the treatment you need.
Your income, education, and environment can become hindrances to accessing the counseling you need. Your hectic work schedule can be a challenge when it comes to setting an appointment with a counselor. The lack of extra income or healthcare insurance may prevent you from even booking a consultation.
Lastly, socioeconomic factors play a significant role in your counseling outcomes. It can affect your motivation and the social support you receive. Your socioeconomic standing can also affect how well you follow your counselor’s advice.
All of these show that the disadvantaged have a harder time following through with counseling. But we can all work together to improve this situation. By breaking the stigma, improving accessibility, and recognizing limitations, counseling can become effective for anyone, no matter their socioeconomic standing.