In his book, Economic Stress: Harsh Truths and Keys to Empowerment (CreateSpace; $9.99), Dr. Robert M. Brown III, outlines the financial strain still being felt by many Americans as a result of the economic crisis. The medical sociologist and Howard University adjunct professor asserts that these financial pressures are affecting the ability of many workers to achieve the American Dream.
Economic Stress illustrates the stories of everyday people who are having difficulty making ends meet. Brown gives tips for coping with, and overcoming, these challenges. BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Brown for more information about the book.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: Why did you write this book?
DR. ROBERT M. BROWN III: It was based on some of the informal conversations that I had with people from different walks of life who were experiencing economic stress. But then as I began to do research on the topic, I was finding that there was very little conversation about the impact of economic stress on people and families. I was looking at two major crises. The first was the mortgage crisis of 2007 and then the failure of many major banks that resulted in the federal government bailing out banks to the tune of $700 billion in 2008. There was a lot of conversation about the impact of these two crises on Wall Street and main street, but very little on the impact on people and families.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: How do you define economic stress?
BROWN: Economic stress is defined as the inability of a person or a family to meet their financial obligation because of job loss, not enough work, job instability, or low wages, and the impact on their mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and economic well-being.
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BLACK ENTERPRISE: What was the thought process behind how you structured the book?
BROWN: As I continued to do research and talk to people about the impact of economic stress, it was clear that this was a phenomenon affecting people across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. I wanted to write a book that could be a resource tool that someone could put into practice right away. I found the most effective approach was to use the personal stories of people who are actually experiencing economic stress. The first four chapters of the book focus on the personal stories of the people who are experiencing economic stress and the remainder of the book focuses on how you can manage it more effectively.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: What are some solutions to economic stress?
BROWN: Stay calm. Staying calm will allow you to be more proactive as opposed to allowing anxiety and fear to take control. Second, let your bill collectors know that your ability to meet your financial obligations has changed. The sooner you let them know you need help, the more likely they are to be able to provide assistance. Also, get a support network who can help you deal with the emotional impact of economic stress and help point you to career sponsors and mentors.