Published July 7, 2015
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Elizabeth Bowen and co-author on the publication of their article "Disparities and the social determinants of mental health and addictions: Opportunities for a multifaceted social work response," in Health & Social Work.
Bowen, E. A., & Walton, Q. (2015). Disparities and the social determinants of mental health and addictions: Opportunities for a multifaceted social work response. Health & Social Work. Advance online publication. DOI 10.1093/hsw/hlv034
As stigmatized and disenfranchised populations, racial and ethnic minorities in the United States tend to have poorer physical and mental health outcomes. The authors argue that the social work profession has a unique role to play in eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, particularly in the areas of mental health and addictions, where social workers have long provided essential services. Health care reform and the development of the National Prevention Strategy provide an opportunity for social work to expand on previous efforts and advance a multilevel response to addressing the social determinants of mental health and addictions and reducing disparities. To be effective, such a response must encompass varied elements, including service-informed social work education; the growth of a transdisciplinary research agenda to better understand social determinants and inform interventions; the provision of culturally responsive and evidence-based clinical services; and policy action on relevant issues, foremost the impact of incarceration and the criminal justice system on people struggling with mental health and substance use problems. The elimination of health disparities vis-à-vis these efforts is an important goal manifesting the profession’s commitment to social justice.