RISE looks at recent headlines concerning social determinants of health (SDoH).
New report highlights need to address climate change for mental and physical health
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sheds light on the concerning impacts of climate change on both mental and physical health. In the report, IPCC researchers evaluated the impacts of climate change related events such as extreme heat events, floods, wildfire smoke, and air pollution on individuals’ physical and mental health. The climate change events were found to increase mortality and morbidity, food-borne and water-borne diseases, gastrointestinal infections, cardiovascular and respiratory distress, and mental health challenges, according to IPCC. The mental health challenges were associated with increasing temperatures, trauma from extreme weather events, and loss of livelihoods and culture.
In response to the report findings, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) stated the report underscores the need for HHS’ new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), which aims to address the impact of climate change on the health of all Americans.
“People across our nation are suffering right now as a result of surging floods and storms, devastating wildfires, and relentless heatwaves, and they don’t have the luxury of ignoring the climate crisis,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the statement. “This report confirms that those who lack proper infrastructure and basic health services suffer most from changing climatic conditions. HHS is committed to using every tool available to protect the health of our nation from the devastating effects of climate change.”
CDC study finds 1 in 10 children struggle with food insecurity, SDoH
About one in 10 children between the ages 0-17 experienced food insecurity between 2019 and 2020, according to recent data shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data, collected through the National Health Interview Survey, was observed by age, sex, race, disability status, urbanicity, and family characteristics.
Among the key findings::
- The percentage of food insecurity was highest among Black (18.8 percent) and Hispanic (15.7 percent) children compared to white children (6.5 percent)
- A higher percentage of children with disability (19.3 percent) lived in a food-insecure households compared to those children without disability (9.8 percent)
- Children in large metropolitan areas were more likely to live in food-insecure households
- Children living with only one parent were more likely to experience food insecurity
- Children living in a household with three or more children were more likely to experience food insecurity than households with fewer than three children
Guide provides employers with tools to better support employees’ social needs
The Northeast Business Group on Health has made recommendations for how employers can better understand how SDoH can affect their employee population. The report, Social Determinants of Health-A Guide for Employers, includes seven recommendations for employers to address SDoH among their employees. Social determinants include where employees live, the food they have access to, and their caregiving status. “Employees need to believe their organization cares about their health and well-being and that of their families and colleagues,” wrote report authors. “Creating a culture that is sensitive to SDoH and embraces equity is important.”
The report recommends employers:
- Collect employee social risk data and utilize data that may be available through their health plans and vendors.
- Consider benefits adjustments including salary-based health care contributions and plan design and high deductible health plan enhancements.
- Evaluate benefits that may be missing, such as caregiving benefits, tuition reimbursement, career training, transportation subsidies, and healthy nutrition programs.
- Review paid time off policies.
- Support financial and health literacy by providing health benefits education, health literacy resources, and financial education and counseling.
- Leverage partnerships to further data collection and connect employees with community resources.
- Establish a culture that prioritizes health-related social needs through education; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and mental health initiatives.