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What Social Determinants Add to Behavioral Health Consulting

What Social Determinants Add to Behavioral Health ConsultingThrough behavioral health consulting, we work with organizations to help them make the most of their clinical offerings. We work with their counselors and therapists. As behavioral health consultants, it is our job to come alongside our clients with tools, strategies, and knowledge that can make them the best at what they do.

Providing behavioral health services is one of the more fluent aspects of healthcare as there are so many variables that come into play. In recent years, we have started to recognize that some of those variables constitute social determinants. We have also recognized that social determinants can impact outcomes.

What is a social determinant? Social determinants are defined as “the conditions, in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, that impact a person’s life.”  Examples of social determinants include lack of stable housing, food insecurity, and lack of transportation.  For example, the person who doesn’t have stable housing will bring that reality with him into behavioral health treatment. It will affect how he responds to therapy and, ultimately, the outcome he and his therapist achieve.

Intertwined With Health and Wellbeing

This new emphasis on social determinants is born out of the understanding that they are intertwined with health and wellbeing on multiple levels. A person’s situation in life directly impacts physical health, mental health, etc. Therefore, it’s time to stop dismissing social determinants as having little to no impact on a person’s mental wellbeing and include a person’s social circumstances as part of whole person care.

With that in mind, we believe it is imperative to put the time and effort into understanding how social determinants effect behavioral health. Understanding social determinants makes mental health management more productive and more likely to succeed. Better outcomes tend to flow from giving social determinants the attention they deserve.

Understanding the Roots of a Problem

Giving proper attention to social determinants opens the door to a better understanding of the complete picture of what patients may be dealing with. Let’s refer back to the example of a lack of stable housing. Let’s also throw in a lack of good nutrition.  You might have a patient admitted to a behavioral health program in hopes of understanding why he feels the way he does. He might be struggling with behavioral health issues that would be less severe had he access to stable housing and good nutrition.  Certainly, his behavioral health issues need to be addressed — as do the social determinants.

Social Determinants in a Post-COVID World

In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, behavioral health management companies are dealing with a whole new group of social determinants that were barely on the radar a few years ago. Anxiety over financial health, a loss of health insurance after being furloughed, and even finding oneself on the unemployment line due to company shutdowns all paint a particularly accurate picture of our new world.

The problems people face are very real. As we collectively try to navigate a post-COVID world, we are facing a genuine mental health crisis. It is a crisis we need to get a handle on as soon as possible. Otherwise, the frequency of behavioral health issues among Americans is only going to increase.

Through behavioral health consulting, Horizon Health encourages facilities and therapists to give serious consideration to social determinants. They do play a role in a person’s behavior. Failing to grasp the social determinants that shape a patient’s thinking is failing to understand a core part of that person’s being. We cannot let this happen anymore.

Let’s Get to Work, Together

Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.