Mental health problem definition should be reworked, scientists say

Mental health problem definition should be reworked, scientists say
Scientists have called upon a rework of the definition of mental health problem - or in other words, called for  greater clarity into what constitutes of a mental health problem.

By examining over 100 publications which referenced ‘mental health’ or ‘mental illness’ in some way, the researchers from the University of Bath (UK) and Bern University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland) identified some 34 different theoretical models used by practitioners, researchers and users of mental health services to understand the nature of mental health problems. Researchers found there isnt any criteria which could be used to prioritise why one model might be used over another.

Scientists are of the opinion that this is vital considering how mental health problems are understood has lasting ramifications for how people with mental health problems are assessed and supported.

These ranged from biological models (focussing on problems with the body or brain), to psychological (focussing on the mind and behaviour), sociological (focussing how social circumstances affect people), to models which were informed by consumer and cultural considerations (which reflect the experiences of people who have been treated by mental health services and consider how treatments should be adapted to different cultures).

Whilst previously, policymakers and practitioners tried to form consensus about using so-called ‘bio-psycho-social models’ - a catch-all term, which draws on elements of all different models - this consensus seems to be fracturing, say the researchers.

Publishing their review in the Journal of Mental Health,  the team say their findings have important implications in view of the steep increase in mental health problems diagnosed. According to the Mental Health Foundation, in just the past week, it is estimated that one in six of us will have experienced a common mental health problem. However, such figures are dependent on how the problem of mental health is understood and measured.

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