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.
Mental Health 2020: A Presidential Initiative for Mental Health. (2019). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Advocacy/Federal/Mental-Health-2020-A-Presidential-Initiative-for-Mental-Health.pdf
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 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm
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Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.
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