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HBS107 Assessment Task 1 – Reading Review Essay

Before health only referred to your immediate condition; whether you were with or out without sickness or disease (Blane, Brunner & Wilkinson 2000, p. 71). This definition has now changed, researchers became aware that not only does your physical state determine your health status but you social and economic position does too. We now understand that sickness and disease can be prevented depending on your living conditions (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003).

Accordingly, the ten social determinants of health were created, which are the social gradient, stress, early life, social exclusion, work unemployment, social support, addiction, food and transport (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). These social determinants of health can be applied to our everyday situations. This paper will focus on the two social determinants, social support and stress. The paper will explain how these two social determinants affect the parents and children or child, partaking in a custody case.

The article is ‘fair share’ from the herald sun newspaper, 31 july 2012, pg. 13. Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) explain that the social determinants of health are the social and economic conditions in which an individual, group or population can determine their health status. The two out of the ten social determinants of health being discussed in this paper are social support and stress. Having good social support gives an individual a sense of belonging and social connectedness and in turn will lead to a positive psychological and physical well being.

(Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) further explain that ongoing stress can cause shorter life expectancy, chronic illness and poor mental health. The article Fair Share discusses how in custody cases, usually one parent gains full custody of the children or child. As well as, the rights to how often the other parent is allowed to see and spend time with the children/child. The article discusses how the court system should allow for shared parenting. This is when the custody and responsibility is equally shared between both parents.

In addition, the article also mentions that this is only possible if the children/child share the same relationship with both parents, as well as, that the parents must share a healthy and civil relationship (Herald sun, 31 July 2012, p. 13). The parent with the acceptable living conditions is the one who will more likely be the successful parent in obtaining custody (Herald sun, 31 July 2012, p. 13). This can be an extremely stressful time for all those involved. Not only should the parents have positive social support, the children/child should to.

Poor social support for any of those involved can lead to depression or stress, hence a higher chance for mental health problems (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). Additionally, good social support ensures that the parents and the children/child have a safe place to discuss the adversity of the custody case as well as gain emotional reassurance from those they trust (Blane, Brunner & Wilkinson 2000, p. 74) Furthermore, a lack of social support can lead to stress (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). Custody cases would indubitably cause stress for the parents and children/child.

Not knowing who will gain custody or for the children/child, not knowing where they’ll be living can create an array of emotion, more so revolving around stress. Consistently feeling stressed can result to the parent or children/child having low self –esteem or self-efficacy (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). This can have an extremely formidable affect on their health. Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) explain that this is due to the body’s natural response to a threatening situation, called the fight or flight response.

The sympathetic division of the body releases hormones in order for the body, together with the mind to help cope with the stress. In everyday life this is a natural and commonplace reaction, but for the parents or children/child undergoing legal proceedings the stress can last for months. Therefore, the body can only withstand so much before breaking down and allowing for chronic illness to set in. To summerise, this article looked at two of Wilkinson and Marmot’s social determinants of health; social support and stress.

It explain what a social determinant of health was and specifically what social support and stress meant. The article related the two social determinants to how it could affect the parents and children/child partaking in a custody case. Reference: Blane, D, Brunner, E & Wilkinson, R 2000, Health and Social Organization: Towards a health policy or the Twenty-First Century, Routlegde, London O’Brien, S 2012, ‘Fair Share’, Herald Sun, 31 July, p. 13. Wilkinson, R & Marmot, M 2003, Social Determinants of Health: The solid facts, 2nd edn, World Health Organisation, Denmark.


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