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Psychology of Mental Health

Mental health and mental illness has been modelled in two principal ways within contemporary Western cultures.

These are known as either the psychological (psycho-social) model or the bio-medical model of mental health and because of the way that these two different models are conceived, mental illness can mean two fundamentally different things.

3D render of human brain

The Bio-medical Model of Mental Health / Illness

As a result of the emergence and dominance of medical science in the last century there has been a tendency to try and explain human suffering from a purely ‘chemical’ point of view.

This is understandable given the discovery of molecular DNA in the 1950’s and the rapid advances in medicine that have taken place ever since. This model, however, fails to take full account of both the ‘context’ in which people suffer as well as the subjective nature of stress and anxieties.

For example, there is little or no difference between the symptoms of depression and grief, and yet one of these is considered to be an ‘illness’ whilst the other a ‘normal’ human reaction to the loss of a loved-one.

In fact, the only difference that is needed to determine that these feelings are ‘pathological’ (faulty) rather then ‘normal’ are whether or not the person providing the ‘diagnosis’ believes the sufferer has got a ‘good enough’ rationale for feeling that way!

If you consulted a GP for grief at the loss of a very close relative 5 days ago, it is highly unlikely that you will be diagnosed as ‘ill with depression’.

However, if you consult for the feelings of grief without a good enough reason (in the mind of the GP or psychiatrist) then you are much more likely to be diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’.

It should be clear from this paradox that there is something fundamentally wrong with mental health diagnoses – and that is that they are an ‘opinion’ rather than an actual measure of internal pathology.

The Psychological Model of Mental Health / Illness

On the other hand, psychologists regard the reactions to difficult life experiences, such as sadness or anxiety, to be normal and understandable and due to an individual’s understanding of the presenting situation.

Everybody makes sense, good or bad, of experiences in a way that is unique to them. In this sense, mental health symptoms, or distress, are completely subjective and will depend on a wide range of factors in any one persons life.

These factors can include their current life circumstances, how resilient they are to problems, their socio-economic environment, their family and social settings as well as their cultural beliefs and it is THESE factors that are most likely to determine the degree of distress that they experience when confronted with life challenges.

Why Choose Prevental?

Paul is a highly experienced, academically qualified psychologist with over 30 years experience of working with people to overcome life challenges and achieve life goals.

Read about Paul here

We are an approved supplier of mental health support services to the NHS Black Country Clinical Commissioning Groups who we have been working with since late 2017.

We have been helping improve people's mental health in the West Midlands since 2009 and have more than 30,000 hours of clinical experience.

Prevental Healthcare are expert mental health professionals dedicated to helping you and your employees thrive.

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