Stress and the social determinants of health

Many of the factors that contribute to stress are out of your control. However, there are still ways you can try to affect change.

Man stands in metro station as a train speeds past him

The stress management topic on our website provides information on what you, as an individual, can do to manage stress. However, many factors beyond the individual — such as family, organizations, community, society and culture — contribute to stress by creating the conditions that make us stressed in the first place.

In the workplace, for example, many employees attribute job stress to unrealistic workloads and unpaid overtime. For others, stress is a result of living in substandard housing and unsafe neighbourhoods.

It is important for individuals to learn stress management skills for themselves. However, an approach that can reduce everyone's stress is to change the conditions that cause it in the first place. These conditions are called the social determinants of health. You can find some examples of social determinants of health listed here.

It is not easy to change a school or workplace culture, the education system, or housing and safety in entire neighbourhoods. Some ways you can make a difference are to:

  • Learn about the social determinants of health.
  • Vote for politicians who work to change stress-producing conditions.
  • Support initiatives that remove barriers to healthy living.

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