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2025 Annual Meeting

2025 Annual Meeting

Social Determinants of Psychopathology: Bridging Etiologic Research and Implementation Science to Improve the Lives of Patients and Populations

The social causes of psychopathology have been recognized nearly as long as psychopathology itself. Advances in research on the social determinants of psychopathology have enabled us to understand the causal role of social factors on mental health. For nearly all aspects of the mechanistic underpinnings of psychopathology, we are enjoying a greater understanding of how social factors influence mental health. Social factors become embodied through genomic processes, become encoded in the developing brain, and have enduring influences on neurocognitive development in childhood and cognitive decline later in life. Social factors moderate treatment response and treatment outcomes for many psychiatric conditions. And social factors fundamentally shape the ability to seek and receive mental health care. Unfortunately, the tremendous gains in understanding how social factors cause and sustain psychiatric illness have not yet led to comparable gains in preventing psychiatric illness and in reducing disparities in psychiatric illness; nor have they led to comparable gains in the effectiveness of psychiatric care. I propose to organize an APPA conference that would bring together leading scholars on the social determinants of psychopathology across mental health’s disciplines – epidemiology, anthropology, sociology, genomics, neuroscience, biostatistics, psychiatry, and health policy – to present on our current understanding of how social factors cause mental illness, and what stands in the way of this understanding being fully utilized to improve the lives of patients and populations.

Stephen E. Gilman, ScD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Bethesda, MD