Factors Impacting Positive Mental Health

Social Determinants of Mental Health


In its 2016 Advancing the Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Framework for Action, the Mental Health Commission of Canada noted that " mental well-being is deeply impacted by social determinants of health, such as precarious housing, poverty, social exclusion, and racism. Specifically, social determinants of health can also be expressed as any factor including our individual life experiences, socio-economic status, physical environments, etc. that impact the conditions in which individuals exist from birth to aging.

Of note, there are believed to be12 social determinants of health, however,
according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, when it comes to mental health, three social determinants are particularly significant:

1. Freedom from discrimination and violence
2. Social inclusion
3. Access to economic resources

Similarly, the Black Health Alliance, notes that Black people in Ontario face disproportionately poor outcomes across the social determinants of health. They also note that:

1. Income: 24% of Black Ontarians qualify as “low income”, as compared to
14.4% of the general racialized Ontario population.


 Discrimination: Second-generation Black Canadians earn 10 to 15 per cent less than second-generation White Canadians, even when results are adjusted to reflect educational levels.

3. Education: In the Toronto District School Board, 69% of Black students graduated in 2011, as compared to 87% of racialized students and 84% of White students.

4. Social Exclusion: Black Canadians make up 9.5% of the Canadian prison population while representing only 2.5% of the overall Canadian population.

Other aspects related to SDH related to access to culturally relevant services are related to black populations usually face difficulties finding a therapist of color or an organization that specifically caters to one’s community — which currently
does not exist for African, Caribbean, Black Canadians. This play into larger barriers for finding types of therapy or medication that fit an individual’s needs.

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