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Social Determinants

Social Determinants of Health Image

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The Social Determinants of Mental Health (Michael Compton, MD, MPH)

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Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health are societal problems affecting communities, families, and individuals that interfere with achieving optimal health and that increase risk for illnesses. Extensive research documents the social determinants that underpin diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and sexually transmitted infections. The same societal problems that comprise social determinants of health are also social determinants of mental health. That is, the determinants that increase risk for diabetes, for example, also increase risk for psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder, and for substance use disorders like alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. While the social determinants are seen as “the causes of the causes” (predating and predicting onset of illness), they are also drivers of poorer course and outcomes among those with existing conditions.

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