Social Exclusion

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Examine a model of social exclusion/inclusion and assess the possible responses of both psychology and the church to this model.

In this essay I will give a brief definition of social exclusion and will identify and define a model of it. Having defined the model I will identify some of its characteristics and show some of the ways it manifests itself. I will then assess the possible responses to this model of both psychology and the church.

There are several definitions of social exclusion. The Office for Social Inclusion, Dublin defines it thus: ‘Social exclusion is being unable to participate in society because
of a lack of resources that are normally available to the general
population.’ (2007) [Online]

The definition goes on to state that it is not only individuals who are subject to social exclusion, that communities are also affected. Some of the contributing factors to social exclusion are ‘linked problems such as low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments and family problems.’ (2007) [Online]. It should be noted that non-participation does not arise from choice, but rather from constraint.

One model of social exclusion is mental health. The World Health Organisation defines mental health as: ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.’ [Online]

ISPS Uk defines mental illness in the following way:

‘The term ‘mental illness’ is generally used when someone experiences significant changes in their thinking, feelings or behaviour. The changes need to be bad enough to affect how the person functions or to cause distress to them or to other people.’ [Online]

Research supports that there is a definite link between severe mental illness and social exclusion.
‘Mental health problems have been recognised as both a cause
and an outcome of social exclusion, which affects aspects of life
such as employment, income, housing and access to services.’ (2007)[Online].

The Social Exclusion task force, set up by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, carried out some investigations into the extent of social exclusion in relation to mental health. In 2004 their review of the investigation showed that ‘adults with mental health problems are one of the most excluded groups in society.’ This is the case for several reasons, and manifests itself in other areas of life.

Many people with mental illness would like to be in employment. Statistics show that less than a quarter are employed – this being the lowest rate of employment for the main groups of disability. The review suggests that as a result of this the consequences impact other aspects of life, i.e. housing problems, rent arrears, debt, and lack of access to relevant information and/or agencies. (2004) [Online].

Understanding mental illness as a condition with psychological roots stems back to the 18th century when mental illness was seen as a condition causing individuals to display irrational behaviour as a result of irrational thinking. The psychological perspective of mental illness would suggest that individuals were not ‘ill’, rather that their irrational thinking had caused the development of irrational behaviour.

Darley, Glucksberg, Kamin and Kinchla (1981) suggest a psychological definition of mental illness as that of bizarre or extreme patterns of behaviour which result in a ‘disturbance of others, self-distress and an interference with daily functions.’ (Cited in A Psychological View of Mental Illness [Online]).

A biological approach to addressing mental illness would suggest that medical intervention has its place in improving the symptoms. A psychological approach would suggest that addressing the behavioural and emotional issues of an individual is a valid...
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