Housing News

Foreclosures = Health Problems

Depression attacks both evictees and new owners.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has interesting research that they announced some weeks ago – foreclosure problems lead to heath problems. The study reveals that almost half of the 250 people studied reported depressive symptoms while undergoing foreclosure; and 93 participants met screening criteria for major depression. Co-author Julia Lynch PhD. says “… Losing a home can be especially devastating because it means the loss of this dream. When this happens, there is reason to worry not only about the health of the home owner but also that of family members and the broader community they live in.”

And what do they suggest? The research team recommends “… health care workers and mortgage counseling agencies coordinate their efforts to help people at risk of foreclosure access both medical and housing help. Doctors should ask their patients about their housing situation and steer them towards mortgage relief resources. Mortgage counselors, meanwhile, can provide information about how to access safety net health care, enroll in public insurance programs like SCHIP or Medicaid, or apply for nutritional assistance programs for pregnant and nursing mothers and their children. The implications for policy, too, are vast.”

Lesson 1: If you are facing foreclosure and in need to salvage your home, you’ll be burdened by health problems. That is, if you take a second or third job, you’d be too stressed soon. If you decide to foreclose your home, you’d still be heading to the doctor. Sounds funny but this is reality.

But, if you think only evictees are seeking medical attention, USA TODAY recently published a report that speaks otherwise – new homeowners too are feeling the guilt. The report calls it “economic survivor guilt” which they clearly describe as “… a little-noticed emotional byproduct of the financial devastation wrought by the housing and banking meltdowns of the past year.”

One lady interviewed admitted she’s feeling guilty for owning a property, since her family and friends are undergoing tough times in their career and finances. She’s avoiding conversations that would make her speak about her new home because it’s too awkward these days. Psychologist Sylvia Lafair states, “… I think there is a guilt of survivorship that is real. I don’t think it debilitates very many people, but the people who are able to buy houses now can feel sympathy for the other people. My recommendation is that when you’re moving, take (your) old stuff and say, ‘Do I really need this?’ and give it to a shelter or the Salvation Army. One way to balance the guilt is to do something to be gracious.”

Lesson 2: In a situation where you can’t celebrate your hard-earned success just because others are in a pathetic mood, remorse is natural. The truth is that some things are just beyond our control.

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