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Special AJPH Publication Explores the Urgency of Public Mental Health

Date: Mar 27 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: APHA Media Relations

The American Journal of Public Health is proud to announce the release of its new supplement, The Social Context of Mental Health, Bereavement and Grief: A Call for Public Mental Health, in partnership with UCLA. This supplement sheds light on the critical intersection of mental health and societal well-being. It delivers insights that challenge traditional approaches to mental health while focusing on the pressing mental health crises exacerbated by recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, international wars and societal disparities.

At the heart of this groundbreaking collection of papers lies a resounding call to action for a paradigm shift in addressing mental health issues. Rather than solely concentrating on clinical interventions for individuals, the supplement underscores the imperative to address broader societal determinants that shape mental health outcomes. The thought-provoking articles delve into the multifaceted nature of mental health crises, from the impact of cultural conflicts to the alarming rise in suicide rates among marginalized youth.

"We must move beyond individual-focused services and tackle the systemic issues that perpetuate mental health disparities," said Dr. Vickie M. Mays, a clinical psychologist, as well as a guest editor and contributing author of the supplement. "This supplement serves as a catalyst for innovative solutions that prioritize community-level interventions and policy changes and underscores the imperative of addressing broader societal determinants that shape mental health outcomes.” Added Mays, who is a distinguished professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and in UCLA’s Department of Psychology: “By championing a collective effort to address the root causes of mental health disparities, we can pave the way for a healthier and more equitable future."

Key articles in the supplement indicate that:

  • There is a staggering increase in suicide rates among young Black children, some as young as 5 years old, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Historical legacies complicate resolving mental health burdens, grief and bereavement, and colonial and racist history is perpetuated by many current social practices and legal policies.
  • Awareness of gendered patterns in mental health indicators could lead to early detection of suicide in men.

"We cannot afford to overlook the societal implications of today’s mental health crises," said Dr. Susan D. Cochran, guest editor and contributing author of the supplement, and a distinguished professor of epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health and Department of Statistics and Data Science at UCLA. "From workplace bereavement policies to historical legacies of racism, addressing mental health requires a holistic approach that acknowledges and confronts systemic injustices."

This AJPH supplement offers a roadmap for policymakers, researchers and advocates to effect meaningful change in mental health care. Through a combination of rigorous research, insightful commentary and real-world solutions, the supplement amplifies the urgency of prioritizing public mental health initiatives. It is currently available online. To request a full copy of a study or for information on scheduling interviews, contact APHA Media Relations.

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The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. Students from 26 nations, faculty, staff, and graduates of the school are engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation, and the world.

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The American Public Health Association champions optimal, equitable health and well-being for all. With our broad-based member community and 150-year perspective, we influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.