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The burden of mental illness in the United States is among the highest of all diseases, and mental disorders are among the most common causes of disability (HealthyPeople.gov, 2014). Many people with a variety of mental disorders are disadvantaged because of poor access to health care. Poor access to care can be due to several reasons, and those reasons range from lack of employment and insurance to knowledge deficiencies surrounding mental conditions and the need to get help. Several factors can play into this, such as the behavior of an individual. Individual determinants include stress, coping mechanisms, risk-taking behaviors, and openness. Another factor is social environment determinants. These determinants include access to good education and a supportive network of people, access to employment for income, and community dynamics. A third factor is physical environment. Physical environment determinants include access to parks and safe sidewalks for physical activity to relieve stress, supportive house environment with no violence, residential crowding, home conditions, and exposure to toxins at certain developmental stages. Lastly, genetic factors play a significant role in a person’s susceptibility to mental health issues. Disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and autism are known to run in families through DNA transmission.
In overlooking the five population determinants, the ones that most standout when it comes to mental health are access to healthcare and social environment determinants. According to an article in Social Solutions, more than half of Americans living with a mental health condition receive no treatment. These barriers to health access are due to financial burdens, lack of mental health providers, mental health education and awareness, the social stigma that surrounds mental health conditions, and racial barriers. Early screenings, accurate diagnoses, and appropriate treatment for mental illnesses can help to alleviate suffering from both patients and those close to the individual.
The social determinants of health, defined as those conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that impact health and well-being are known to have major influences on diverse health outcomes (Shim et al., 2014, p. 23). Prevention at a population level will have the most significant impact. Providing health equity across a populational level regardless of economic or social status will play a crucial role when considering all five determinants of health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), epidemiologic data provides enough evidence to direct swift and effective public health control and prevention measures. Mental health effects people of all ages. Data in HealthPeople.gov (2014), states that approximately 20% of children are affected within their lifetime and about 83% of adults have some type of mental illness. Epidemiologic data is gathered to analyze the health status of a population living in an environment and then utilize that information to outline potential health impacts and quantify them. This information is then used as a direct link to policy-making decisions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Lesson 1: Introduction to epidemiology.
Retrieved December 17, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/ophss/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section1.html
Gulis, G., & Fujino, Y. (2015). Epidemiology, population health, and health impact assessment. Journal of Epidemiology, 25(3), 179-180. https://doi.org/
HealthyPeople.gov. (2014). Mental health. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/leading-health-indicators/2020-lhi-topics/Mental-Health/determinants
Kindig, D., Asada, Y., & Booske, B. (2008). A population health framework for setting national and state health goals. JAMA, 299(17), 2081–2083. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/journals/jama/fullarticle/181830
Laureate Education (Producer). (2012). Population health. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Shim, R., Koplan, C., Langheim, F. J., Manseau, M. W., Powers, R. A., & Compton, M. T. (2014). The social determinants of mental health: An overview and call to action. Psychiatric Annals, 44(1), 22-26. Retrieved from http://m3.wyanokecdn.com/94bb6a43efb278e9eb152cdaf4e17b9a.pdf
Social Solutions. (n.d.). Top 5 barriers to mental healthcare access. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from https://www.socialsolutions.com/blog/barriers-to-mental-healthcare-access/