Summary of the story
- The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to help low-income families struggling with food insecurity.
- However, some states have addressed the work requirements for SNAP benefits, creating an additional barrier for these groups of populations experiencing food hardship.
- For the first time, new research shows that these job requirements are linked to more SNAP recipients visiting mental health providers.
According to data collected from West Virginia, individuals receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance with anticipated work requirements are more likely to need mental health care for their families. anxiety and mood disorders.
Food insecurity has been linked to poor mental health outcomes, as well as job insecurity, while the nation is currently grappling with mental health provider shortage.
SNAP provides nutritional assistance to eligible low-income families, and in 2015, more than 20 million families participated in the program, researchers say. However, some recent job requirements policy already implemented in some states, which can pose a barrier for those who need the service most.
To better understand how these requirements affect applicants’ mental health, researchers evaluated data from West Virginia, which revoked work requirement waivers in one state county number.
A total of 65,157 Medicaid enrollees across nine counties were included in the study.
Using Medicaid claims data collected between 2015 and 2018, the analyzes found that job requirements were associated with a 0.9 percentage point increase in the risk of mood disorders in women. . Similarly, men also increased by 0.7 percentage points.
For anxiety in particular, during the time period women were subjected to work requirements there was a relative increase in risk of 17.8% compared with baseline of 5.8%, while men had a relative change of 24.3% compared to the baseline probability of 5%. However, the rate of increase is slower in men than in women.
The threat of losing SNAP benefits, the authors explain, could exacerbate existing mood disorders in enrollees, which could lead to an increase in mental health services being used. , the authors explain. In addition, people with undiagnosed or untreated conditions may be prompted to visit a provider to seek exemptions for the work requirements.
“We found that women are affected by job requirements much earlier than men, consistent with a range of studies that have documented an association between loss of job status,” the authors said. food safety and poorer mental health outcomes among women”.
Women also make up the majority of SNAP programs, as they tend to play a larger role in securing food for their families.
“Half of non-working women reported that childcare/family obligations contributed to their hiring decisions. Women are also more likely to work part-time than men, limiting their ability to enjoy an exemption,” they added.
Cite previous research that shows job requirements don’t work get a lot of jobs and really reduce SNAP participation among vulnerable populations, the researchers conclude “policy makers and future researchers should seek to better understand these trade-offs when considering the net impact of policies require SNAP work for an already marginalized population.”
Published on August 1, 2022