The Invisibly Broken

Invisibly broken

I once read an article in which a social worker proffered a troubling depiction of parents who are recipients of food stamps. She stated that “Most women receiving food stamps put on a whole lot of weight within months”. This dispassionate and cursory assessment of struggling mothers (or fathers), by a government worker, demonstrated a widespread disconnect between the underprivileged and those responsible for assisting them and lifting them out of destitution.

Rather than viewing the underprivileged as growing fat off free food, the focus ought to shift to the underlying mental struggles and/or physical health of the disadvantaged, some of whom are victims of domestic abuse or PTSD or other mental disorders as well as physical challenges. In fact, when a mentally disturbed person seems fine to you, perhaps it is because you have succeeded in temporarily bringing out the person’s old or true nature, simply by showing compassion.

Society’s tendency to ignore the fundamental causes of poverty and instead highlight the superficial impedes its very ability to rehabilitate and uplift the depressed. Many are broken and their invisible internal suffering and struggles cannot be easily understood based on a cursory interview or observation. The underprivileged need mental health care, judgment-free support, and a positive, individualized approach to improving their well-being.

Some people may appear physically fit but are in fact mentally depressed; others are mentally fit but physically disabled; yet others are both physically and mentally incapacitated. Some ailments are invisible, difficult to observe and/or diagnose, and with the current emphasis among social services agencies on getting everyone back to work as quickly as possible, many unfortunately fall through the crack.

The concept of the invisibly broken must become one of utmost importance to government, non-government and/or charity organizations established for the purpose of alleviating the sufferings of the underprivileged. Social services officials and charity organization representatives ought to receive training on sensitivity to mental health affliction and to provide compassionate, reliable support in steering their clients back to independence.

Many live among us and next to us, broken, the depth of their sufferings proudly, fiercely and intimately concealed.

Margaret A. Benedict
Benedict International, Inc.

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