Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Mental Health Problems

10/01/2004

  • Mental health problems, which affected one-third of the survey respondents9, varied by age, ethnicity, and marital status.

Almost 20% of the respondents scored high on the Psychological Distress Symptom Scale, indicating that they were at high risk for anxiety or a depressive disorder (data not shown). In addition, a quarter of the survey respondents were classified as having major depression using the CIDI-SF.10 The prevalence of mental health problems 11 increased proportionately with age. Slightly less than a quarter of respondents aged under 25 could be classified as having a mental health problem, compared to 53% of respondents aged 40 and older, and 38% of respondents aged 35-39.12

Mental health problems were much more common among white respondents than among black respondents. Almost a third (31%) of whites scored high on the psychological distress scale, compared to one in six (16%) black respondents (Figure IV-4). In addition, divorced and separated respondents had a higher prevalence of mental health problems than never-married respondents in that 34% of divorced or separated respondents scored high on the psychological distress scale, compared to 13% of never-married respondents (Figure IV-5).13

Figure IV-4- Percentage of Respondents with Mental Health Problems, by Ethnicity

Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina
*Differences between blacks and whites were statistically significant at the .05 or .01 level
  • Mental health problems as employment barriers were much more common among older, white, and previously married respondents.

Almost 15% of all survey respondents reported that a mental health problem had prevented them from taking a job, holding a job, or attending education, or training activities in the past year. About 30% of respondents aged 40 and older had a mental health problem that had been a barrier, compared to only 5% of 18-24 year olds (data not shown). Almost twice as many whites (23%) as blacks (12%) had a mental health problem that had interfered with employment, education, or training in the last year. Never-married respondents (10%) were significantly less likely to have a mental health problem that had been a barrier than respondents who were separated or divorced (24%).

Figure IV-5 - Percentage of Respondents with Mental Health Problems, by Marital Status

Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina
*Differences between divorced and never-married respondents statistically significant at the.05 or .01 level

9 To measure mental health problems among the survey respondents, validated scales were incorporated into the
survey. First, serious psychological distress within the past 30 days was measured with the K6 Psychological
Distress Symptom Scale, which incorporates respondents’ answers on a series of questions about feelings of
depression, worthlessness, nervousness, and hopelessness. In addition, the probability of major depression was
measured using the methodology of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF).
10 See footnote 2 above.
11 Respondents were classified as having a mental health problem if they had a high level of nonspecific
psychological distress (K10 psychological distress scale) in the past 30 days or probable major depression (CIDISF)
in the past year.
12 These differences were statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.
13 These differences were statistically significant at the 99% confidence level.

 

View full report

Preview
Download

"emp-assets-liab-223E.pdf" (pdf, 977.84Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®