Beyond the 50-Minute Hour: Increasing Control, Choice, and Connections in the Lives of Low-Income Women


Although poverty is associated with a range of mental health difficulties among women in this country, mainstream mental health interventions are not sufficient to meet the complex needs of poor women. This article argues that stress, powerlessness, and social isolation should become primary targets of our interventions, as they are key mediators of the relationship between poverty and emotional distress, particularly for women. Indeed, if ways are not found to address these conditions directly, by increasing women’s control, choice, and connections, the capacity to improve the emotional well-being of impoverished women will remain limited at best. This is the first of 5 articles that comprise a special section of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, called “Beyond the 50-Minute Hour: Increasing Control, Choice, and Connections in the Lives of Low-Income Women.” Together, these articles explore the nature and impact of a range of innovative mental health interventions that are grounded in a deep understanding of the experience of poverty. This introduction: (a) describes briefly how mainstream approaches fail to address the poverty-related mental health needs of low-income women; (b) illuminates the role of stress, powerlessness, and social isolation in women’s lives; (c) highlights the ways in which the articles included in this special section address each of these by either adapting traditional mental health practices to attend to poverty's role in participants' lives or adapting community-based, social-justice-oriented interventions to attend to participants’ mental health; and (d) discusses the research and evaluation implications of expanding mental health practices to meet the needs of low-income communities.



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American Journal of Orthopsychiatry



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© 2010 American Orthopsychiatric Association