5 Ways to Use SDoH and MH Data to Advance Your Advocacy

All that health disparities data gets overwhelming. Here are distinct ways to use and leverage the data to your advantage

What don’t the SDOH and MH impact?

This last few weeks has seen the usual litany of published research on how the social determinants of health and mental health (SDoH & MH) impact health and mental health outcomes. All denote significant care disparities across disease states and populations, including but not limited to the following embedded studies:

I’m a research nerd; my colleagues, mentees, and students are most likely breaking into big smiles about now. If there is relevant literature on a topic, I’ll find it. While I’m not a researcher, I will use any metrics and outcomes to craft sustainable solutions, and motivate others to do so. 

Data is Overwhelming, BUT

Many persons share their frustration with me about the abundance of SDoH & MH data. It can feel like the massive data speaks to a worsening state of affairs. However, the data is meaningful; you can’t fix what you don’t know! Remember, each piece of literature provides vital validation for necessary legislation, funding, and reimbursement to bridge those identified gaps in care. Here are 5 ways to use the data to advance your SDoH & MH advocacy:

  1. Stay current on relevant legislation: A flurry of federal and state legislation is on the horizon, all driven by dedicated research. My friends at Aligning for Health maintain an updated roster of SDoH legislation on their site that can be accessed here; current heavyweights include the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 and Leveraging Integrated Networks to Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs ActI’d encourage those interested to sign up for weekly bi-weekly notifications on these, and other laws.
  2. Follow the Funding: Dollars are available to build services and programs that bridge health equity gaps.
  3. Join relevant advocacy efforts: Along with RISE Association and Aligning for Health mentioned above, Root Cause Coalition is a national group of organizations committed to reverse and end systematic wholistic health inequities. 
  4. Prioritize the data important to you!: That research churns fast and furiously; follow and sign up for notifications from sites and entities covering the SDoH & MH that matter to you and your organization. This may be research from JAMA or LancetHealth Affairs, Brookings Institute, Hastings Center, or the CDC. This recent issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation hones in on current pandemic priorities; scroll down to a stellar graphic detailing the wholistic health landscape. The Satcher Institute has updated their Health Equity Tracker with SDoH and PDoH (political determinants of health) by state; they’ve also added behavioral health to the mix!
  5. Sign up for notifications from those, in the know: That inbox gets busy, so take charge by signing up for notifications from key players in the SDoH space. If you liked this blog post, click on the, Follow Ellen’s Interprofessional Insights button in the sidebar of this page to receive my bi-weekly blog and vital health equity information.

I look forward to your comments on this blog post, and other strategies you use to keep your finger on the pulse of wholistic health equity priorities. 

#SDoH #SDoMH #Healthequity #funding #interprofessionalimpact #accesstocare #bridgethosegaps  

Author: Ellen's Interprofessional Insights

Bio: Ellen Fink-Samnick is an award-winning industry subject matter expert on interprofessional ethics, wholistic health equity, trauma-informed leadership, and supervision. She is an esteemed professional speaker, author, and knowledge developer with academic appointments at George Mason University and the University of Buffalo. Ellen is a clinical supervision trainer for NASW of Virginia, and serves in national leadership and consultant roles. She is also a Doctoral in Behavioral Health Candidate at Cummings Graduate Institute of Behavioral Health Studies. Further information is available on her LinkedIn Bio and website

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