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    The Biopsychosocial Perspective to Mental Health and Illness

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    As we go through life and the environment changes, our brain and it functions also changes. Likewise, a person’s genetic makeup and the environment they interact with will have a profound effect on their mental health, biological health and their brain functions. In order to truly understand someone’s mental health, we must take into account all of the factors affecting them both positively and negatively in order to get a better picture of their overall health and well-being.

    According to Drs. George Engel and John Romano, the biopsychosocial perspective is more appropriate when analyzing the causes of mental illness. This model introduces the idea that there are biological, psychological, and social determinants to mental health. This idea links the outside world to someone’s biology and psyche.  It also involves our consciousness, sentiments, and behaviors.

    One reason why the biopsychosocial perspective is so useful is because it explains how some people who are seemingly “healthy” can get mental illnesses and why some are more prone to mental illness than others. Those who are mentally healthy most likely exercise, have positive energy and strong social bonds does not exempt them from mental illness. The biopsychosocial perspective gives evidence that although someone can be mentally healthy at some point in their life, they can still experience mental illness if their biopsychosocial balance is disturbed.

    • According to the biopsychosocial model, interactions between people’s genetic makeup (biology), mental health and personality (psychology), and sociocultural environment (social world) contribute to their experience of health or illness.
    • The biological influences on mental health and mental illness are varied, and include genetics, infections, physical trauma, nutrition, hormones, and toxins.
    • The psychological component looks for potential psychological explanations for a health problem, such as lack of self-control, emotional turmoil, or negative thinking.
    • Social and cultural factors are conceptualized as a particular set of stressful events (being laid off, for example) that can differentially impact mental health depending on the individual and his or her social context.
    • The biopsychosocial theory posits that each one of these factors is not sufficient to create health or mental illness, but the interaction between them determines the course of one’s development.
    • Despite its usefulness, there are issues with the biopsychosocial model, including the degree of influence that each factor has, the degree of interaction between factors, and variation across individuals and life spans (Boundless)

    This perspective can give clinical workers many benefits when treating a mentally ill patient. They are now able to apply every aspect of the patient’s life to their illness.  Those with mental illness can now gain a sense of self-awareness. Mental illness sufferers can understand their health as a whole entity with several parts that function together. It also broadens the way we view a mental illness by no longer looking at it as a black or white issue. The biopsychosocial perspective also challenges the stigma on mental illness by enabling people to realize that anyone can suffer from a mental illness because we all have biological, psychological, and social influencers in our lives.

    Listen to Episode 3 of my podcast Anxious Ramblings!

    This episode will cover my thoughts on avoidance and a little introduction to agoraphobia and exposure therapy. We will hear from Phillip about his struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia. This episode will conclude with me sharing how people’s perceptions can change after being exposed to mental illness.

    Julia Cardoso is the Mental Health Staff Writer with a focus on Anxiety Disorders. She is a graduate of Emmanuel College with a BA in Sociology and is on her second year MSW program at Simmons College. Julia is passionate about Mental Health and eliminating the stigma.

    4 Comments

    4 Comments

    1. Jeanelle Correa

      Jeanelle Correa

      September 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      So true! !

    2. Suneel Karnik

      Suneel Karnik

      September 18, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Change I and You into We. That’ll change the world.

    3. Ana Mejia

      September 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Agreed!

    4. Jennifer Prezant

      September 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      true

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