For this assignment, the public mental health issue has been chosen. It is a global and widespread issue, while influencing larger populations as well, affects minorities the most. Mental health is connected to many social determinants of health; it worthy of note that these determinants both cause the mental health issue and are caused by it and are all interconnected. Thus, concerning the situation, a global program is needed to remedy the issue.
Public Mental Health Issue
As mentioned above, the chosen public health issue is the mental health. It is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which the individual copes with the usual stresses of family and community living” or “fulfillment of each person’s potential” (Gambia: Let’s Show Care to Our Mentally-Ill Patients, 2022). It has been previously described as impacting both risk of disorder and access to services, and consequently improved outcomes (Alegría et al., 2018). Other depictions say that it requires interventions including treatment of mental disorder and prevention of associated impacts (Campion, 2018). This situation is current in many high-income countries and even more so in developing countries. Even in high-income countries only a minority of people with mental disorder receive any treatment, while interventions to prevent disorders are even less (Campion, 2018). Thus, according to the authors, mental health needs assessments represent a framework and mechanism to address this implementation gap.
Current statistical data indicates that mental disorders are common on the global scale. The global prevalence for anxiety, mood, externalizing and substance use disorders is 9.8–19.1%, while for more serious mental illnesses it is 0.8–6.8% (Campion, 2018). Mental disorders are expensive to deal with, and affect the individual, the family, the health system and society. Donker and Kleiboer (2018) claim that “A staggering amount of 25% of people worldwide are estimated to be affected by mental in their lives”. Other research acknowledges it as well, claiming that the proportion of disease burden due to mental disorders and self-harm, is 22.0% globally, 24.4% in Europe and 23.6% in the UK (Campion, 2018). Thus, mental disorders are widespread and are a problem for many countries.
The issue impacts health risk behaviors, education, employment and crime. The lack of a mental health policy, legislation and programs in many countries, limited resources and infrastructure, stigma and shame al influence mental health in turn (Donker and Kleiboer, 2018). Overall, disadvantaged populations are the most affected by mental health issues. For them, stress and physical health accumulate, multiplies the impacts of social determinants throughout their lifespan. In the United States and Canada, discrimination against racial and sexual minorities and immigrant is associated with hazardous mental health outcomes.
There are many social determinants of health influencing mental health. For example, neighborhood safety can help predict mental health outcomes community characteristics. U.S. residents in areas with high prison admission rates and income inequality may develop depression or anxiety disorder, while having a higher risk of drug overdose (Alegría et al., 2018). Thus, a healthy community is significantly important for mental health. For example, a community can provide a sense of belonging and demonstrate support. Overall, poor-quality housing can cause other health trouble, rather than mental, such as chronic disease and injury (Quality of Housing, 2020). Economically disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected by environmental conditions such as the presence of cockroaches and environmental tobacco smoke.
Another social determinant of health that is important for mental health is connected to the previous one; namely, poverty. Depression of anxiety is 2.5 times more widespread among teenagers from 10 to 15 years old with low socioeconomic status (Hynie, 2017). Since childhood, poorer people more often experience worse economic, social, and environmental conditions. Thus, mental health issues both cause reduced income and follow from it, increasing poverty, which, in turn, causes mental disorders. Other health problems possible from poverty are chronic heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and disability (Poverty, 2020). On the other hand, disabled people suffer poverty more severely than other groups.
The next social determinant of health is, as evident, connected to the previous one, namely, early childhood development. Unfavorable conditions in early life have a connection with mental disorders. For example, family conditions and quality of parenting are the most important aspect of this. Children suffering neglect and both physical and psychological abuse abuse are especially damaged (Early Childhood Development and Education, 2020). Thus, children in lower socioeconomic groups more often experience conditions harming their development. These are not limited to mental troubles but include developmental delays and poor health outcomes.
As evident from above, the three social determinants of health are connected to race, gender, and social class. Racial minorities living in poverty have more adverse health outcomes. For example, African American men are more likely to die from prostate cancer, while African American women are more likely to suffer from breast cervical cancer (Poverty, 2020). Children from disadvantaged backgrounds more often need special education. Thus, racial minorities suffer from the social determinant of poverty and an unequal distribution of health the most with their limited funds to pay for treatment. All of these three factors influence the community’s ability to get the same medical help their richer and better educated compatriots can afford, including treatment of mental health.
A policy that can improve the situation may be based on e-Health technologies. As there is not enough professionals in mental care to deal with all the disorders, such technology may help to deliver care to people in low resource settings who would otherwise not get it. E-Health technologies include guided and unguided interventions for depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Integration of technology into mental health services is taking place via telephone services, video teleconferencing, Internet-based interventions, text messaging, and mobile phone- and smartphone-based interventions (Ruzek and Yeager, 2017). Text messaging is important given current limitations in penetration of more sophisticated devices into low-middle income countries (Ruzek and Yeager, 2017). An intervention called ‘MoodGYM’ has been used by 750 thousands of depressed people since 2001 (Donker and Kleiboer, 2018). Audio computer-assisted self interviewing systems and evidence-based interventions by non-specialists, may be the key to improve the situation.
Thus, mental health is one of the most important issues and is connected to various social determinants of health. The main of these determinants is poverty, which, in turn, introduces others into the matter. The issue is related to the problems of minorities as well, with minorities often being poor and suffering from poverty more, with having a bigger rate of conditions. Such a widespread issue needs a global program to improve the situation, with the Internet being a possible base for such a program.
Alegría, M., NeMoyer, A., Falgàs Bagué, I., Wang, Y. and Alvarez, K. (2018) ‘Social Determinants of Mental Health: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go’, Current Psychiatry Reports, 20(11). Web.
Campion, J. (2018) ‘Public mental health: key challenges and opportunities’, BJPsych International, 15(3), pp. 51–54. Web.
Donker, T. and Kleiboer, A. (2018) ‘Special issue: e-health innovations for global mental health’, Global Mental Health, 5. Web.
Early Childhood Development and Education (2020) Web.
Gambia: Let’s Show Care to Our Mentally-Ill Patients! (2022) Web.
Hynie, M. (2017) ‘The Social Determinants of Refugee Mental Health in the Post-Migration Context: A Critical Review’, The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 63(5), pp. 297–303. Web.
Poverty (2020) Web.
Quality of Housing (2020) Web.
Ruzek, J. I. and Yeager, C. M. (2017) ‘Internet and mobile technologies: addressing the mental health of trauma survivors in less resourced communities’, Global Mental Health, 4. Web.