Determinents of Health

The Public Health Agency of Canada cites on their web site that they’ve learned a lot in the past several decades about what determines health and where they should be concentrating their efforts. Much of the research is telling them that they need to look at the big picture to examine factors both inside and outside the health care system that affect everyone’s health. At every stage of life, health is determined by complex interactions between social and economic factors, the physical environment, and individual behaviour. These factors are referred to as “determinants of health”. They do not exist in isolation from each other. It is the combined influence of the determinants of health that determines health status.

Key determinants of health are listed as:
1.    Income and Social Status
2.    Social Support Networks
3.    Education and Literacy
4.    Employment/Working Conditions
5.    Social Environments
6.    Physical Environments
7.    Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
8.    Healthy Child Development
9.    Biology and Genetic Endowment
10.    Health Services
11.    Gender
12.    Culture

The challenge the Public Health Agency of Canada faces is how to use what’s known about the determinants of health to:

  • focus the research agenda so they can increase their understanding of how the basic determinants of health influence collective and personal well-being
  • adopt strategies that improve health for Canadians

The above text is from www.phac-aspc.gc.ca , the Public Health Agency of Canada’s web site.

Determinants of health have equal importance to all Canadians. The impact of a serious mental illness complicates health status well beyond the symptoms and treatment of the illness, and it does so for both the person directly afflicted by a serious mental illness and his or her natural sources of support. The inability to recognize the signs of an illness, late intervention, lost opportunity, and discrimination are barriers to optimizing some of the other determinants of health.

The Canadian Mental Health Association/Fort Frances Branch focuses on some of these determinants with clients by offering support in the areas of employment, housing, income, education, personal health practices, social support, and access to services. Each element is recognized in the Framework for Support, the context for CMHA/Fort Frances’s approach to helping clients achieve recovery.

For further information about determinants of health and population health, please visit the site listed above.