Complex systems at different levels (states, organisations, individuals) undergo phase transitions when faced with a sudden shock. The phase transitions are unpredictable and can lead to unstable states and also introduce a source of fundamental uncertainty about the future. In the face of this type of fundamental uncertainty, we know from pioneering work on population health that social determinants (e.g. education, employment, housing, etc.) will have a substantial influence on the ability of individuals and society to be resilient and recover from these shocks. This chapter will start with an overview of complex systems, phase transitions and the nature of fundamental uncertainty. These concepts will then be discussed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of social determinants in promoting both mental and physical health, and thus resilience at individual and population levels, will be described and the chapter will finish with an exploration of historical and contemporary examples of means that can be used to support individual and collective resilience in the face of fundamental uncertainty.
Part of the book: Anxiety, Uncertainty, and Resilience During the Pandemic Period