Social causation in psychology is a concept that refers to the idea that social factors, such as economic status, education level, and social support, can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being. This theory suggests that individuals who experience structural disadvantages in society are more vulnerable to mental health problems.

Understanding Social Causation

Social causation theory is rooted in the broader notion of social determinants of health. This approach emphasizes the importance of considering broader societal factors when examining individual health outcomes. Social causation theory takes this one step further, by suggesting that these social determinants can actually cause or contribute to mental health issues.

Examples of Social Determinants

Some examples of social determinants that may contribute to social causation include:

The Importance of Social Causation Theory

Social causation theory is important because it highlights the need for a broader approach to mental health care. Instead of focusing solely on individual-level factors like genetics or personal choices, this theory emphasizes the importance of addressing societal-level factors that contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

Implications for Mental Health Care

If we accept the premise of social causation theory, it becomes clear that traditional approaches to mental health care may be limited in their effectiveness. While therapy and medication can be helpful for some individuals, these interventions do not address the root causes of mental health problems.

Instead, mental health care providers may need to take a more holistic approach, addressing social determinants of health as well as individual-level factors. This could involve connecting patients with community resources like job training programs or social support groups, in addition to providing traditional mental health services.


Social causation theory is an important concept in psychology that highlights the role of societal-level factors in shaping individual mental health outcomes. By understanding the social determinants that contribute to poor mental health, we can develop more effective approaches to prevention and treatment.