Conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health outcomes. These conditions are called social determinants of health. Social determinants of health, including having a safe place to live, meaningful employment, educational opportunities, reliable childcare, transportation, genuine community inclusion and positive social support, account for about 50% of a person’s overall well being. Having access to high quality clinical health care accounts for only about 20% of a person’s overall well being. This comparison makes it clear: while access to medical and mental health care is important, we can potentially have a bigger and longer last impact on a person’s well being by helping them improve their social determinants of health.
Partner for Mental Health’s System Navigators remove barriers that are preventing people living with mental health challenges from improving their social determinants of health. While all our clients live with a mental illness, more than half of them chose to work with us for the exclusive purpose of improving their social determinants of health. Perhaps they are already well connected to clinical care, or perhaps they are not ready to accept clinical intervention. Whatever the case may be, we meet people where they are and help them achieve their self-defined goals. Our experience has show that often these goals are related to social determinants of health, and that when we are successful at helping people achieve them, they are able to live healthier and happier lives.