Adverse Community Experiences: Connecting Zip Code to Mental Health

This presentation was delivered by Crystal Lee Brandow, Ph.D., to the American Public Health Association during its 2018 Annual Meeting. The presentation makes the connection between a person’s lived environment and their well-being, demonstrating the profound impacts that any given neighborhood can have on the physical and mental health of its residents. Physical location determines the opportunities and resources most immediately available to those who live there, such as quality education, adequate transportation, and access to supermarkets with healthy foods. These locale-specific determinants influence the mental and physical health of residents, which affect other aspects of their lives. In this way, it can be argued that ZIP codes are more impactful on health than genetic code.

Negative social determinants, such as poverty and poor education, increase the likelihood of adverse community experiences and community trauma. In turn, adverse community experiences increase the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among area youth and exacerbate ACEs’ impacts on their lives. Adverse community experiences and ACEs often affect low-income communities and communities of color, perpetuating disadvantage among underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods. This presentation provides a call to action for public health professionals to recognize and treat adverse community experiences to enhance public health. This is a valuable resource for community-based organizations and care providers who serve localities where the life expectancy is low.

This resource was first shared in 2018.

(Presentation, 14.2 MB)

VIEW RESOURCE