This essay discusses the similarities and differences between two approaches - community psychology and public health that are related to social problems. Each method approaches social problems differently; however there are certain overlapping features. Each method also has its specific strengths and weaknesses. All of these factors will be discussed in this essay. Community psychology and public health
The foundation of public health rests on the practical implementation of attempts to protect and improve a community’s health by applying preventative medicine, sanitary methods, and social science. The goal of public health is to prevent disease and distress from occurring. And here is the first difference between public health and community psychology. Where public health focuses on specific problems, community psychology focuses on the overall quality of life of the individuals within a community. The goal of community psychology is to understand the relationships of the individual with his or her community and society through research and to improve the individual’s life through certain actions. The ideas that drive community psychology are inspiring and motivational, but the ideas have proven to be difficult to put into action items in order to implement them. This is one of the weaknesses of community psychology and one of the causes of the many failed attempts at transforming a community. However, there are also cases of political factors obstructing the implementation of solutions to social problems, as described by Professor Albee in Guernina (1995, p. 85), “and when Reagan was elected the message went out to the National Institute of Mental Health from the White House saying, ‘We will no longer support any research into the social causes of mental illness we will only support research into the biological, genetic organic causes’.” Thus it seems like community psychology is deemed the impractical, unnecessary approach that is too concerned...
References: Gilbert, L. Sociology and the ‘New Public Health’ in South Africa. Department of Sociology. University of the Witwatersrand. 1995.
Guernina, Z. Community and health psychology in practice: Professor George Albee interviewed by Dr Zoubida Guernina. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 5, 207 - 214. 1995.
Yach, D. & Tollman, S.M. Public health initiatives in South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s: lessons for a post-apartheid era. Public Health Then and Now. 1993.
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