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Across cultures and continents

‘A wonderful opportunity’ to examine social determinants’ impact on population health

· Social Determinants,Community Psychology

I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from and with some of the world's top thought leaders in understanding health and wellbeing. Here I talk about my experiences in London studying under Sir Michael Marmot and our subsequent global conference on social determinants of health, originally published on The Socially Responsible Practitioner blog.

The Adler School’s Tiffany McDowell, Ph.D., Program Manager and Research Associate for the Institute on Social Exclusion, traveled to London this month for the opening conference of the 2012 University College London’s (UCL) Health and Society Summer School on the Social Determinants of Health.

She attended the program in advance of the ISE’s own global conference Sept. 19-20 on “The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward,” featuring UCL’s Dr. Michael Marmot as keynote speaker. Dr. Marmot is a globally renowned expert and professor of epidemiology and public health.

Dr. McDowell reports the UCL conference included significant remarks from Dr. Marmot and other notable speakers including Oxford University health economist Dr. David Stuckler and Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

  • Dr. Stuckler spoke to health changes that can take place during times of economic crises—and described a clear relationship between current European mental health condititions and economics.  He is among several European health economists who believe the current financial crisis has more than likely led to increased suicides across Europe.
  • Dr. Piot, former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Executive Director of the United Nations’ specialized agency UNAIDS,  is lnown for co-discovering the Ebola virus in 1976.  He spoke on issues of AIDS as related to both science and politics–and proposes health as a political agenda, viewing health as a right instead of a commodity.

The focus of the work of at UCL and the Adler School ISE is this: Economics, political agendas and many other non-health factors, actions and decisions impact population mental health and well-being at all levels.  They are social determinants, and they significantly determine population health outcomes.

A large body of evidence, for example, illustrates the relationship between social determinants and mortality rates across the globe, Dr. McDowell points out.

“[The UCL conference] was a wonderful opportunity to see how social determinants, specifically social exclusion, impact population health in various cultures and countries, and what we can do here in the U.S. to assess population mental health,” she says.

The ISE will explore exactly that question  as it relates to the mental health and well-being of urban populations at  “The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward.”

CE/CME credits will be offered for psychologists and interested non-psychologists, physicians, and social workers–along with the opportunity to learn from nationally and internationally recognized experts and practitioners in population mental health, environmental studies, epidemiology, food and behavior research, government, philanthropy, public health law and policy, vulnerable populations, and more.

Hosted by the Adler School’s ISE, the conference is jointly sponsored by University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine and the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work. View the full agenda of speakers.