Two recent documents published in Australia explore the impacts of social determinants and public policy on mental health.
The first document, released by the State of Victoria Department of Health, is a guide to help enable policy-makers to consider the social determinants of mental health in program and policy development. The guide also includes background information and key concepts in mental health promotion, and discussion of opportunities to promote protective factors and reduce risk factors in relation to Victorian government policy positions. A “populations approach” was used to develop the guide, with a resulting dual focus on the mental health of the whole population and specific attention to at-risk or vulnerable populations. Mental health promotion is defined as a process of supporting individuals to maximize well-being by taking action on the social determinants of mental health.
See “Using Policy to Promote Mental Health and Well-Being: An Introduction for Policy Makers,” State of Victoria, Department of Health, 2010, available at www.health.vic.gov.au.
The second publication, from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), offers a summary of recently published research about the role that social participation and connection play in promoting mental health. The document focuses on research related to social inclusion, social support through supportive relationships, social participation, social networks, social/community cohesion and civic engagement. It is part of a larger series of summaries that are available on the VicHealth website.
See “Opportunities for Social Connection: A Determinant of Mental Health and Well-Being: Summary of Learnings and Implications,” VicHealth, November 2010, available at www.vichealth.vic.gov.au. For more information about the role that social connection plays in VicHealth’s mental health promotion work, visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au.