If someone or a group of people are considered “at-risk,” according to Free Dictionary, it proclaims the following definition:
“at-risk (ăt′rĭsk′) adj.
1. In danger of suffering from mistreatment, injury, disease, or the effects of dysfunctional behavior: after-school programs for at-risk youth; screening at-risk seniors for diabetes.
2. Likely to result in injury, disease, or other negative consequences: at-risk occupations; at-risk behaviors.”
These are people who most likely have had interference of some sort with their ability to access or receive services like proper medical care, equal education, fair housing, community resources, etc.
There are many definitions of the term “at risk.” It really just depends on what context you are speaking from. Here are some at-risk circumstances listed below with brief details and examples:
- When it comes to education, a student is considered at risk if they do not meet educational standards, such as failing classes or having poor attendance.
- If we’re talking about healthcare, a person is considered at risk if they do not have access to proper healthcare or engage in risky behaviors that could lead to illness or injury.
- As far as community resources are concerned, at-risk individuals could be those who are not receiving adequate access to community resources, such as food banks, homeless shelters, mental health services, prescription and medical help, adequate water treatment or waste management, or job training programs to name a few.
- Housing at-risk individuals are not just at risk if they live in poverty or are homeless but are not given equal treatment when acquiring mortgages or renting clean and safe dwellings.
- If an individual is considered at risk for financial reasons, typically, they are facing this financial hardship due to job loss, high debt, or lack of access to financial services.
- For legal reasons, an individual is considered at risk if they face legal issues, such as incarceration, discriminatory termination from employment, or not receiving adequate legal representation.
- Should someone be considered at risk in the mental health area, they might be experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic abuse, or plainly not receiving adequate mental health services. For example, low-cost prescriptions that treat conditions like depression or anxiety could be provided to help someone at risk.
In addition, counseling services could be offered to help someone address underlying issues leading to their at-risk mental health status. Community resources, support groups, 12-Step programs, and other social activities could be organized to provide individuals with a sense of community and connection.
Furthermore, programs like the Health and Wellness Outreach program help to improve the overall health and well-being of low-income seniors and other at-risk communities by teaching simple, effective ways to increase physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
- Individuals at risk for social causes may experience social isolation due to various factors, including aging or a lack of support from family and friends. Elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable, as they are often afflicted by chronic and debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and cancer. These illnesses can lead to a feeling of isolation, making it difficult for older adults to stay connected to the world around them without the proper support from either home health or community services catered to them.
Whatever the “at risk” is tied to, we must be able to acknowledge that outside forces have either not served the individual or population well or have assigned the at-risk label to innocent subjects.
According to a psychological definition: at risk means vulnerable to an outcome, disorder, or disease. Risk status for a person is defined by genetic, physical, social, and behavioral factors or conditions. For example, since schizophrenia is somewhat genetic in origin, a child of a schizophrenic parent would be more at risk for developing the disorder than a child of a parent without the disorder.
My children and I are more at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes since my mother, grandmother, and aunt have or had it. Both my mother and grandmother died around sixty years old from complications of diabetes, of which we could write a book. So, I try to be mindful of how we eat and how active we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
What does at-risk mean in education?
An at-risk student refers to a student with a high probability of flunking a class or dropping out of school. Factors that create an at-risk student include homelessness, pregnancy, health and financial issues, domestic violence, and more.
Let us now look at how the at-risk label might be appropriate when it comes to an education situation such as but not limited to the below possibilities and scenarios:
- A student struggling with mental health issues during a transition period, such as a divorce, a move, a death, etc.
- Students with learning disabilities who are falling behind in their classes. For example, such as someone with an emotional impairment cannot focus on the material enough to complete it.
- Children from low-income communities or other disadvantaged backgrounds may not have the same access to resources as their peers.
- Students who experience trauma find it difficult to cope in their current educational environment.
- Those facing difficulty affording tuition and other fees related to their education and future success.
- A child struggling to find the motivation to continue their studies. Again, possibly one that has an emotional disability.
- Bullied or harassed students
- Peer pressure to take part in activities that put the student in danger.
- A student who is at risk of dropping out of school due to a lack of support or encouragement from their family.
- Those facing language barriers have a challenging time understanding the material.
- And then there’s the student who struggles to balance the demands of their school life and the pressures of their dysfunctional or impoverished home life.
Students in these situations may be considered at risk due to their circumstances and will need additional support, such as counseling or tutoring, to help them succeed in their educational pursuits.
Additionally, they may benefit from access to mentorship programs, financial aid, mental health therapy, and other support services to help them meet their academic goals. By identifying and addressing the unique needs of these at-risk students, we can help them to achieve success in their educational endeavors.
What can lead to a mental health crisis?
How about those facing mental health crises? What would that look like? Certain factors may increase the risk of developing a mental illness, including a history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce, an ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes, or those affected by violence, conflict, and forced migration. Children and young people in vulnerable circumstances are included as well.
Let’s also consider some more risk factors in the list below:
- Depression or anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed
- Those who have a mental illness and feel isolated or misunderstood
- Traumatic events such as childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect and struggling to cope.
- Facing financial difficulties and feeling hopeless
- Recent tragedy, loss of a loved one, abuse, etc., and overcome by grief and sadness
- Overwhelmed by pressures of job or lifestyle
- Discrimination, prejudice, social disadvantage, poverty, etc., and feeling discouraged or alone. Other relationship risks include bullying, social isolation, or violent or high-conflict relationships.
- Suffering from addiction and feeling helpless or trapped
- Difficult life decisions, feeling uncertain or fearful
- Those experiencing loneliness, isolation, or feeling disconnected from the world
- Severe or chronic health conditions
At risk person definition
In conclusion, many factors can lead to someone being considered at-risk, whether related to education, healthcare, housing, legal, mental health, social, or financial circumstances. It is essential to recognize that the at-risk label is not always due to a person’s own fault or lack of self-will but may result from outside influences, a progressive disease, or situations that the person has no power over.
Also essential to understand and remember that everyone is unique and requires a different approach to helping them cope with the risks they face. With the proper support, resources, and guidance, these folks will be graced with the necessary changes to improve their circumstances and reach a more fulfilling, joyous, purposeful, and free lifestyle.