The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to the community.”[i] Mental illness, by contrast, includes “all diagnosable mental disorders or conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress and or impaired function.” Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.
The determinants of mental health can lie in a complex interplay between structural factors (e.g. the presence or lack of safety net services), individual exposures (e.g. adverse childhood experiences, poverty, illness, and maltreatment during childhood), and genetics. Mental illness disproportionately impacts certain vulnerable populations such as the homeless, the incarcerated, and those leaving the child welfare system. In the absence of support, intervention, or treatment, mental health disorders can readily worsen over time, leading to impaired quality of life, disability, hospitalization, institutionalization, incarceration, suicide and self-injury, and/or death. [ii], [iii]
The age-adjusted adult hospitalization rates for major depression have historically been twice as high in 94102 compared to the city as a whole. Between the two time periods, 2009-2011 and 2012-2014, there was a small but significant decline in the rate citywide; however this decline was not statistically significant in 94102.
California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, 2009-2014.
[ii] San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership. “San Francisco Community Health Needs Assessment 2016.” San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Department of Public Health, 2016
[iii] San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership. “San Francisco Community Health Needs Assessment 2016: Appendices.” San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Department of Public Health, 2016.