Mental Health, Are We Treating the Whole?

It is no secret that mental health conditions are on the rise, impacting 1 in 5 adults according to the American Psychiatric Association. Since COVID 19 the situation has gotten worse. According to a report published in August 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.” But what can we do to help those dealing with these issues?


In the past, when it came to mental health conditions, medical professionals were solely focused on understanding and treating the biological functions thought to be causing the illness. This approach called the biomedical model approach, viewed mental health conditions as being diseases of the brain, and sought to treat them solely by the use of medications. However, as suggested in Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems this might not necessarily be the best approach.


It is believed that mental health conditions are affected by more than just biological factors. Psychological traits and social circumstances are also contributing factors and thus why the biopsychosocial model approach is now often implemented by medical professionals today. The biopsychosocial model approach, as its name suggests, believes that the best way to determine and treat illness is by a combination of not only biological factors but also psychological and social factors as well. When addressing issues of mental health, we need to look at the whole picture and treat not only the biochemical imbalances in the brain but also the psychological traits and social circumstances contributing to the mental health condition(s). Some of those psychological and social influences can include, childhood psychological trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, suffering a loss at a young age such as the loss of a parent or sibling, gender identity, social class, and race and ethnicity.


Rather than taking a biomedical model approach that focuses solely on biological functioning to explain and treat an illness, we should take a biopsychosocial model approach a treat the whole person.



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Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 24–30, 2020. (2020, August 13). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from

BJ, D. (2013). The biomedical model of mental disorder: A critical analysis of its validity, utility, and effects on psychotherapy research. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

Bhandari, S. (2020, June 30). Causes of Mental Illness. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from

Mechanic, D., & McAlpine, D. (2002, April 30). The Influence of Social Factors on Mental Health. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from

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  1. I feel that Psychology is at its best when the observation and patient explanation of symptoms for diagnosis is further defined to a biological cause. We can look at Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Operational Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress, Bipolar Disorder, Excited Delirium, Depression, Anxiety among others that can have a biological cause that can be treated with medication, and some cases surgery. The majority of these forms of mental illness involve imbalances of catecholamines, or disruptions of the negative feedback loop of the hormone to hormone connections of the Thyroid Gland as well as the very sensitive Adrenal Cortex. I see medication as a potential aid with many current problems that can be used in the process of treatment. Hormones such as Triiodothyronine are often deficient or overactive and are usually responsible for regulation of cortisol and stress response. Often times disruptions of the Thyroid can lead to unexplained reactions to mental illness such as Operational Defiant Disorder. Been looking at Excited Delirium over the past week and seeing how it’s often caused by damage associated with Stimulant or Alcohol Addiction. We can see a biological problem of certain Dopamine receptors losing plasticity. A biological reason is examined and its possible for a treatment to be created.


    Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (3rd ed.).

    Freeburg, Laura, Discovering Behavioral Neuroscience

  2. Covid-19 affected the lives of millions nationwide. There were individuals battling the virus itself, or watching their loved ones suffer. And also, may we not forget the finanical aspect of the impact that the virus caused companies and business forced to get shut down. Regardless of the impact, in some way or another everyone was affected by the virus. The severity of Covid-19 lead people to develop mental health issues, due to high levels of stress and anxiety (Xie, K., 2020).

    Along, with any mental health disorder there are several interventions that are used in order to help diminish the severity of the symptoms. Along side with the proper medications, many disorders can be treated effectively with medications. Medications help to balance any imbalances. However medications alone, will not be effective.

    Researchs proves that with proper interventions that incorporate social and psychological functions this helps improve, overall functioning in patients with mental health disorders. Health care workers, in hospital experienced lower rates of mental health disorder because upon arises of the virus, they were trained on interventions in order to help them cope with high levels of stress and anxiety (Xie, K., 2020). Imagien if the same concept was applied to humans elsewhere. If everyone was educated on psychological functions, there would have been a lower impact on people developing mental health disorders. Not only hospitals, should’ve been trained but the citizens as well. This would’ve helped diminish a lot of anxiety and stress that arose during the pandemic.

    Xie, L., Luo, H., Li, M., Ge, W., Xing, B., & Miao, Q. (2020). The immediate psychological effects of coronavirus disease 2019 on medical and non-medical students in china. International Journal of Public Health, doi:

    Gruman, J.A., Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.A. (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  3. Mental health problems are becoming increasingly more prevalent in today’s world. There is no question that COVID-19 exacerbated some mental health problems in society. People are worried about finding employment, staying safe, and ever increasing civil unrest. The widespread emotional distress during this pandemic is increasing the risk of psychiatric illnesses. Unfortunately, for some, they do not receive the mental health treatment they need. According to the National institute for mental health only about half of people with mental illness receive treatment. (Nami) Mental illness doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone of any race, gender, or age. A stigma still exists regarding mental illness which contributes to some people not seeking treatment. Those with mental illness suffer with the disabling nature of the illness and simultaneously deal with the misconceptions and prejudices surrounding it. Often those with mental illness can go years without seeking treatment. Furthermore, for those who eventually received treatment, “the median delays ranged from 1 to 14 years for mood disorders, 3 to 30 years for anxiety disorders, and 6 to 18 years for substance use disorders”. (Jorm,A.F.)

    Even those not diagnosed with mental illness can still have problems in their mental health. Prolonged stress can have adverse effects on a person’s health. Stress increases inflammation in the body generating an immune response to help bring the body back to a calmer state. (Carnegie Mellon) Stress makes the immune system weaker.

    It’s important to stay connected during this pandemic. Exercising, eating healthy, and sleeping well are essential to keep your mental health in check. It’s important to stay informed these days but I believe too much news can be harmful. The pandemic is an excellent opportunity to explore a healthy hobby and combat mental health issues.

    How stress influences disease: Study reveals inflammation as the culprit. (2012, April 02). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from

    Jorm, A. F. (2012). Mental health literacy: Empowering the community to take action for better mental health. The American Psychologist, 67(3), 231-243. doi:10.1037/a0025957

    Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from

  4. Wow, 1 in 5 people having a mental disorder is such a shocking statistic. It makes me realize just how common mental health problems are these days. I wonder if mental health issues always affected this many people and just weren’t discussed as much or if environmental and societal situations have increased this number. It’s no surprise to me that COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated mental health issues, and I think this was such an important and relevant topic for you to bring up. The stress of this shared experience is enormous. According to The Transactional Model of Stress viewing something as threatening or harmful results in stress (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017). If you think about it, large portions of our everyday life in this pandemic now have some level of threat. Need milk? There’s a risk. Want to get the mail? There might be a risk there. Are you in need of a social connection that doesn’t involve technology? There’s a definite risk there. It seems like almost everything we do is in fear of this disease. Did we pack the sanitizer? Do we have a mask? I wonder if our brains will ever settle down after this. What’s worse is normal coping strategies such as seeing friends, or taking a walk in the sunshine can now be viewed to some as additional stressors. As a society we are kind of forced into emotion-focused coping (trying to regulate our emotions to minimize stress) because we have no control over many aspects of this pandemic (Gruman et. al., 2017). I guess one way to cope is to rely on our network support and realize that we are all having this shared experience and that we must be easy on ourselves (Gruman et. al., 2017).


    Gruman, J.A., Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.A. (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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