Community Psychology and Public Health approaches
to Social Problems
All change, individual or collective, stems from discontent or dissatisfaction with the status quo. The same is true of mainstream Psychology. The 1940’s through to the mid 1960’s gave rise to Community Health Psychology and The Public Health Psychology. Both these movements are concerned with prevention and the need to address social injustices and structures to include the community and society at large and not just the elitist minority. Neither Community Health nor the Public Health Model is self- contained within psychology alone, but draws on socio, economic and the political arenas when addressing cause and effect.
Both models are involved in creating settings for community involvement and the study of social support and manners in which to enhance this support. They stress skill building and competence and examine similar issues although Community Psychology tends to go a bit broader.
The main models within Community Psychology(CP) are the Mental Health Model and the Social Action Model as they represent “polarities of the continuum in community psychology” (Seedat,M , Cloete,N & Shochet, I (1998). Prevention is achieved through education and empowerment and focus extends from behavioural aspects of health to issues such as substance abuse, crime, violence, and racism. Public Health on the other hand, focuses on traditional health concerns, via lifestyle change, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer and the like and is based on the bio-medical model. The aim is to promote a longer and better life. It is very scientific and practical with measureable goals over time. Both models view the individual’s behavior and situation as being...
References: 1. Gilbert, L (1995) . Sociology and the “New Public Health” in South Africa, from South African Journal of Sociology, 5:115-124.
2. Guernina,Z (1995). Community and health psychology in practice: Professor George Albee interviewed by Dr. Zoubida Guernina, from Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 5: 217-214.
3.Seedat, M , Cloete, N & Shochet, I. (1988) Community psychology: panic or panacea, from Psychology in Society, 11:39-54.
4. Yach, D & Tollman , S.M. (1993) `public health initiatives in South Africa in the 190’s and 1950s: lessons for a post apartheid era, from Public Health Then and Now, 83(7): 1043-1050.
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