Many living in Benton Harbor don't think there are enough job opportunities and it's affecting their health. That's according to a survey from the Berrien County Department of Health.
The goal was to identify what stresses people out and how that affects their health ... in communities where there are fewer resources and the people generally have more health issues.
Of the more than 250 people surveyed in Benton Harbor:
- 53 percent reported feeling stressed often or always.
According to Berrien County Health Department officials, this is significant because research shows that chronic stress leads to poor health outcomes and higher mortality rates.
- 50 percent do not believe community factors help them live a healthy life
- 60 percent disagreed there were adequate opportunities for education
- 58 percent disagreed affordable healthy foods were available in their community
- 90 percent disagreed their were adequate opportunities for employment
Like a lot of people, Patricia Jones is looking for work. Jones, a Benton Harbor resident, was laid off after working at her job for 13 years.
"I'm 59 years old. It would be hard to get a job because at my age they don't want to give me another job," says Jones.
While Jones says she is keeping a positive attitude ... for so many others in her hometown of Benton Harbor the stress is a lot to take. According to the Berrien County Health Department, that stress could be affecting community health.
"We can see there is a correlation between higher stress levels in people that have fewer resources and less control over their day to day lives and less power in their jobs," says Gillian Conrad of the Berrien County Health Department, "and this kind of chronic stress due to lack of control or lack of hope. That is detrimental to our health."
So the health department surveyed more than 250 people from Benton Harbor to find out what stresses them out.
Top Stressors Include:
- Employment Opportunities
- Health Status
This list comes as no surprise to Shane Franks. He owns a construction business in Benton Harbor and sees the struggles people face.
"We work a lot in the city limits here ... in the course of a day 12 to 20 people ask me for work or a job. Daily," says Franks.
And one woman WSBT spoke with broke down in tears when we asked her what stresses her out.
"I'm a single mom, I have family issues, my father just passed away," says the woman.
While this data is not surprising it will help health officials decide what their next step will be to improving the health in Benton Harbor ... and could offer insight for other communities as well.
"We know that these are key issues in nearly every community," says Nicki Britten, the Director of Community Health Planning for the Berrien County Health Department.
"Further analysis of the data will help us get from these facts to more actionable steps that can be taken to improve the state of the community and thus the health of residents," Britten says. Over time, these figures can measure progress.