Work-requiring food programs lead to more people needing mental health care – The Hill

Story at a glance

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to help low-income, food-insecure families.

  • However, some states have addressed business requirements for SNAP benefits, adding an additional hurdle for these populations struggling for food.

  • For the first time, new research shows that these job requirements are associated with more visits to mental health providers among SNAP recipients.

Individuals receiving SNAP support with a work requirement warning were more likely to need mental health care for anxiety and mood disorders, according to data collected from West Virginia.

Food insecurity is already associated with poor mental health outcomes, as well as job insecurity, while the nation is currently struggling with Lack of mental health care providers.

SNAP provides eligible low-income families with federal food assistance, and in 2015, more than 20 million families participated in the program, the researchers said. However, some recent Business Requirements Policies It has been implemented in several states, which may pose barriers to those most in need of services.

To better understand the impact of these requirements on the mental health of enrollment, researchers evaluated data from West Virginia, which has rolled back work-requirement waivers in some of the state’s counties.

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A total of 65,157 Medicaid enrollees across nine counties were included in the study.

Using Medicaid claims data collected between 2015 and 2018, analyzes showed that work requirements were associated with a 0.9 percentage point higher risk of visiting women for a mood disorder. Similarly, a 0.7 percentage point increase was observed among men.

Regarding anxiety specifically, over the time period in which women subject to work requirements were exposed, women had a 17.8 percent increased risk compared to a baseline of 5.8 percent, while men experienced a 24.3 percent relative change over a baseline probability of 5 percent. cent. However, the rate of increase among men was more gradual than that of women.

The authors explained that the threat of losing the benefits of the SNAP program may exacerbate mood disorders already present among the enrollees, which could lead to an increase in mental health services being used. In addition, persons with undiagnosed or untreated conditions may be required to visit the provider in search of an exemption to work requirements.

“We found that women were affected much earlier by job demands than men, consistent with a range of studies that have documented an association between food insecurity and poor mental health outcomes among women,” the authors said.

Women are also highly represented in SNAP programmes, 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 decision. Women are also more likely than men to work part-time, which limits their eligibility for a policy exemption.”

Quoting from previous research showing that work requirements do not result in this Big Employment Gains And in fact Reduce SNAP Sharing Among vulnerable populations, the researchers conclude that “policy makers and future research should seek to better understand these trade-offs when considering the net impact of SNAP business requirements policies on already marginalized populations.”

Posted on August 1, 2022