Social determinants of health are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They encompass the conditions under which people are born and live and societal forces that shape lives. While the underlying social determinants of mental health may be similar to determinants of physical health, policy solutions designed to address mental health may require a slightly different lens.
Provide multi-level state policy options for addressing the social determinants of mental health.
Methods Review existing challenges, statutes, policies, programs, interventions, potential avenues for action, and international solutions.
Policy challenges include adequate measurement of social determinants, resource limitations, and problem scope. Legislative policy solutions address medically underserved areas, cultural competency, data collection, and health disparities. Other large-scale initiatives can address unstable housing, adverse childhood experiences, the mental health of school-age children, and healthy community design. Future policy avenues can focus on health care payment policy, shared assets, participation in public programs, integration of social services and mental health care, and urban planning. International perspectives highlight health in various contexts and the consequent diversity of policies and multi-sector collaborative approaches.
Keys to addressing social determinants at the state level include:
• Facilitating collaboration
• Strengthening data collection and analysis
• Sustaining resources
• Providing access to care
• Addressing complicated economic challenges
• Eliminating health disparities
• Shaping healthier communities