Promising Policies: Multisolving for Mental Well-being and Equitable Economies
We are facing dual, interconnected crises of rising economic inequality and poor mental health that have been exacerbated under COVID-19. This legacy moment demands that we transform the systems that have given rise to social and economic inequities, so that we can thrive together. This guide identifies promising policies from the Advancing Equitable Economies Library that multisolve for population mental well-being and more equitable economies.
Addressing socioeconomic root causes
Poor mental health is consistently associated with socioeconomic disadvantage, such as poverty, income inequality, unemployment, and low level of education, income and socioeconomic status. Policy approaches that alleviate poverty, reduce income inequality, boost incomes, expand employment, and close achievement gaps have the potential to support mental well-being and thriving. The below policies offer a starting point for multisolving for mental health with upstream action on socioeconomic root causes.
Improving vital community conditions
Mental health problems--psychological distress, depression and suicide--have been linked with low social capital and adverse neighborhood characteristics. Quality of the built environment, walkability, network of social associations, residential mobility and residential stability have also been associated with poor mental health outcomes. Policies that improve neighborhood conditions and increase social capital, like the below, can be leveraged to support thriving.
Racism--both interpersonal and structural--negatively affects mental health. Within our economy, racism structures opportunity to unfairly advantage some and disadvantage others, leading to social and economic inequities that stand in the way of thriving. Leveraging equitable economic policies to combat discrimination, tackle structural racism, and mitigate economic inequalities has the potential to significantly improve population mental health. The highlighted policies are starting points for advancing population mental health through antiracist policy action.
Reducing healthcare costs and medical debt
High healthcare costs and medical debt are concerns for many. Mental health outcomes like anxiety, stress, and depression have been linked with problems paying medical bills, having medical debt, having adequate insurance, and worrying about costs and debt. Policies that lower healthcare costs and increase affordability, and reduce and prevent medical debt can help advance population mental well-being.