Mental Health

Topics: Mental disorder, Sociology, Psychiatry Pages: 7 (2762 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Select a vulnerable population sub-group and consider how social science contributes to understanding the social problems encountered by this group.
The view of mental illness has changed over the centuries, as a supernatural problem, to an actual medical condition. Mental disorder is defined under the Mental Health Act 2007, as “any disorder or disability of the mind” (Rethink Mental Illness 2011). As stated by the Mind for Better Mental Health (2012) “mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain” .This essay will examine, through the contribution of social science, whether people with mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia are vulnerable in society. Vulnerable groups are those “that experience higher risk of poverty and social exclusion than the general population” (EU Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training 2002). This essay will begin with a brief explanation of the models of health and then explain how sociology theories view the mentally ill and the problems they face on a daily basis. It will then look at how social science has assisted, to inform public health and the welfare provision in order for society to have better understanding of the mentally ill. Finally, it will look at how non-governmental organisations and governmental organisations participate to support the mentally ill. The medical model is the dominate model of health, which is accepted by doctors and psychiatrists. (Haralambos, Holborn and Heald, 2004). For those who accept this model have declared that organic and biomedical causes will be found in the long run for all mental disorders (Golightley 2008). Furthermore, they view the disabled individual as the problem, who has to fit into society or otherwise must be shut away in institutions to be cured. Moreover, it is the professionals that have control over everyday decisions of the disabled individual, such as what benefits they can have , what support is available and if they are fit to work, However, the social model believes that institutions and the need to find cures for the disability is a huge problem. The impairment should not be a priority but in fact the focus should be on how society causes the individual to be disabled (British Film Institute 2012). However, Thomas Sceff did not believe that mental illness existed. He claimed that mental illness was recognised entirely by the influences of society and to define someone as mentally ill is a practical way to handle behavior that people would foundnd disturbing (Haralambos ,Smith, Gorman and Heald 1997). In addition, Goffman uses the term ‘spurious interaction’, this is when the mentally ill individual cannot remove the label in any tasks that is carried out. Therefore, the thoughts and opinions of a mentally ill person is viewed the same way of a child and an elderly person and are not equivalent to the ideas of a regular individual (Haralambos, Holborn and Heald, 2004). Philo et al. stated through his work with mental illness and stigma, found that 65% of media coverage in Scotland showed mentally ill people violent towards other people. Then in another study , a group of people were shown violent images and found most of the group’s opinions were shaped by what they saw, regardless of those who had friends that were mentally ill and were not violent (Haralambos, Holborn and Heald,2004) According to Goffman (1960) stigma can do a lot of harm to an individual’s life Haralambos, Holborn and Heald, 2004). Stigma is defined ‘as a mark or a blemish that distinguishes and an individual from others, a handicap or failing’ (Multiple minority identities 2012, p,13). He believes that ‘Mental illness was one of the most deeply discredit-ing and socially damaging of all stigmas’ (Stuart, 2008). Furthermore, Goffman believes that the person with mental illness begin with basic rights and close connections with people but then end up with little of both...
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