5 social determinants that influence people’s mental health
Mental health is a complex issue that is influenced by a variety of factors. One crucial aspect to consider is the role of social determinants in shaping mental health outcomes. Social determinants are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. They include factors such as income, education, and access to healthcare, as well as broader societal factors such as discrimination and social support. In this article, we will explore five key social determinants that significantly impact people’s mental health.
Income and economic stability
People living in poverty are at a higher risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Financial stress and insecurity can also lead to poor mental health outcomes.
Research has shown that poverty can lead to chronic stress, which can in turn, cause changes in the brain that increase the risk of mental health problems. For example, exposure to poverty can activate the body’s stress response, which can result in changes to the structure and function of the brain. This can lead to long-term changes in mental health, such as an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Poverty can also lead to social isolation, a significant risk factor for poor mental health. People living in poverty often have limited access to social resources such as healthcare, education, and social support networks. This can make it more difficult for people to cope with the stressors of poverty and can increase the risk of mental health problems.
Education is a significant social determinant closely linked to mental health outcomes. Research has shown that higher levels of education are associated with better mental health outcomes, while lower levels of education are associated with higher rates of mental health problems.
One of the ways in which education can impact mental health is through the development of cognitive and emotional skills. Education can help individuals develop the ability to think critically, problem-solve, and communicate effectively. These skills can be beneficial in managing stress and coping with life’s challenges, promoting positive mental health.
Education can also give individuals access to resources and opportunities that promote mental well-being. For example, people with higher levels of education tend to have better access to healthcare, employment opportunities, and social support networks. These resources can help people cope with stress and build resilience, promoting positive mental health outcomes.
Discrimination is a significant social determinant closely linked to poor mental health outcomes. Discrimination refers to the unequal treatment of individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other factors. Discrimination can take many forms, including institutional discrimination, interpersonal discrimination, and self-discrimination.
Discrimination can also harm self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of worthlessness and helplessness. It can also lead to internalized discrimination, which is when an individual starts to believe the negative stereotypes and biases they have been exposed to. This can lead to shame and guilt and result in self-destructive behaviors.
People who do not have access to healthcare are at a higher risk of poor mental health outcomes. This includes access to both physical and mental health services.
Access to mental health services is particularly important for people with mental health conditions. People who do not have access to mental health services may not receive the treatment they need, which can lead to poor mental health outcomes. This is particularly true for marginalized communities, who often face barriers to accessing healthcare services, such as lack of insurance, cultural and linguistic barriers, and stigma.
Social support refers to the emotional and practical help that individuals receive from their family, friends, and other members of their community. Social support can take many forms, including emotional support, practical assistance, and companionship.
Social support is also a significant factor to consider when it comes to older people because of how isolated they can become past the age of 60 or 70. It is essential to consider this as people who might have recently lost a partner or are living alone in this scenario can be very prone to mental health issues. There are many different home care services around the world for this, an example being loving care home health in the US, a service that provides home care to older adults in need of it.
The link between all the factors
It is important to note that these social determinants are interconnected and often overlap. Addressing these social determinants is essential to improving mental health outcomes for people of all ages and backgrounds. By understanding how social determinants influence mental health, we can work towards creating a more equitable society that supports the mental well-being of all individuals.
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