Lecture – Social Injustice and Mental Health

Available with English captions.

Presented by Ruth S. Shim, MD, MPH, University of California Davis School of Medicine – Visiting Scholar Series

A 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study reported that about 69% of Black adults and 67% of Latinx adults with any form of mental illness did not receive any form of treatment. In the same study, 89% of Latinx adults and 88% of Black adults with substance use disorders reported that they did not receive care.

Ruth S. Shim, MD, MPH, explores the complex factors that cause these and other mental health disparities. Shim is the Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry at the University of California Davis School of Medicine.

In this presentation, Shim also examines the societal, environmental, and economic conditions that create the social determinants of mental health. These conditions, she explains, “are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices.”

Lecture highlights include:

  • An exploration of social justice, the social determinants of mental health, and mental health inequities
  • An examination of how social injustice contributes to mental health inequities
  • A look at the role of social injustice in the field of psychiatry and mental health
  • Advice for mental health professionals seeking to educate themselves on issues of social justice and advocate for change

Shim discusses how the social determinants of mental health are largely responsible for mental health disparities and inequities among populations of color. She demonstrates how people who have serious mental illness have an increased vulnerability to the deep-rooted inequities in our health and mental health care systems.

Moreover, Shim explores the complex relationship between social justice and mental health. She emphasizes how this relationship has significant implications for individual patients and for society.

Ultimately, Shim’s lecture serves as an introduction for mental health professionals seeking to learn more about the concept of social justice and the role social injustice plays in perpetuating mental health inequities. She seeks to inspire clinicians and others to advocate for equity and justice to address health care disparities and broader social issues.