Simulations Test Impact Of Education Employment And Income Improvements On Minority Patients With Mental Illness
Author: Margarita Alegria, Robert E. Drake, Hyeon-Ah Kang, Justin Metcalfe, Jingchen Liu, Karissa DiMarzio, Naomi Ali
Social determinants of health, such as poverty and minority background, severely disadvantage many people with mental disorders. A variety of innovative federal, state, and local programs have combined social services with mental health interventions. To explore the potential effects of such supports for addressing poverty and disadvantage on mental health outcomes, we simulated improvements in three social determinants—education, employment, and income. We used two large data sets: one from the National Institute of Mental Health that contained information about people with common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, and another from the Social Security Administration that contained information about people who were disabled due to severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Our simulations showed that increasing employment was significantly correlated with improvements in mental health outcomes, while increasing education and income produced weak or nonsignificant correlations. In general, minority groups as well as the majority group of non-Latino whites improved in the desired outcomes. We recommend that health policy leaders, state and federal agencies, and insurers provide evidence-based employment services as a standard treatment for people with mental disorders.