Promoting Mental Health

Topics: Mental health, Health, Public health Pages: 19 (2378 words) Published: June 5, 2014
Evaluate the contributions from social policy in promoting mental health and wellbeing. While exploring this subject there initially needs to be an understanding of the terms ‘social policy’, ‘mental health’ and ‘wellbeing’. In this context, ‘social policy’ primarily refers to regulations and interventions devised at governmental levels, in order to ensure that the living conditions of the population are conducive with providing the highest levels of welfare for that population. (WHO, 1998) The term, 'mental health' can be described as a state whereby the individual is functioning at the highest level of emotional and behavioural adjustment for them. (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2002) Finally, wellbeing is the psychological and physical state of homeostasis, in which all systems of the body are said to be in a state of ‘balance’. This refers to physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of the individual’s life.

It is important to point out that any social policy interventions are unlikely to succeed unless they have a broad consensus of agreement of society as a whole. (Akers and Sellers, 2004) During the 1920's in the United States of America, a bill amended the US constitution and created a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. This amendment was made due to concerns of the US government, that alcohol was a threat to the home and the work place and consequently, the ultimate prosperity of that country. It was known as the Volstead Act. (, 2011) Although, from 1920-1933, the USA experienced a marked decrease in alcohol consumption, the amendment was unpopular. In addition, the United States experienced a rapid increase in the proliferation of organised crime and home produced, unregulated, 'moonshine', which because it was illegal was produced without any legal specifications and often contained dangerous levels of toxic methanol. Clearly by the time the amendment was appealed, in 1933, it was deeply unpopular with the American public and created great social divisions. (Behr, 1996)

Communities need to be in a position of empowerment from the ‘bottom-up’ in order to be in a position to make changes in their communities and ultimately engage active membership from individuals toward making positive changes for themselves. For example, The Communities that Care model, uses evidence based programs in order to engage communities in multi-level planning to address positive risk taking in areas such as youth offending and drug and alcohol misuse. (Hawkins, & Catalano, 2002) At the individual level social policies are developed to create basic standards for personal well-being, such as health care, education, housing, environmental specifications and leisure. They lay down principles in regards to drugs and alcohol use and criminality. (Price and Harper, 2011)

Traditionally, at the family level, these policies refer to the family as a small unit of individuals bound by ties of kinship; marriage, parenthood or adoption. They usually consist of a father, mother and children. In the UK, however, these polices must also refer to individuals who care for children who may be same sex parents, single parents or grandparents, all of whom may or may not share the same household. Social policies are set out to protect, in the first instance, the safety and well-being of children but also parents and grandparents and their ability to care for their children. (Callan, 2007) Social policies in the UK also protect employees in the work place, ensure safe and effective working environments and enforce provisions for basic cover in unemployment, ill health and old age, and social justice and equality (, 2009) At a national level, social policies are developed to protect certain groups in society, such as immigrants, asylum seekers, single mothers, the...

References: Appleby L, New Horizons Towards a shared vision for mental health, Department of Health: Mental Health Division, Consultation Paper, 2010
Antonvsky A., The salutogenic model as a theory to guide health promotion, Oxford University Press 1996
Behr E., Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America. New York, 1996
Callan S
Freud S., Civilisation and its discontents, Washington Press, 1929
Gerrig R., & Zimbardo P.G
McCulloch, Primary Solutions An independent policy review on the development of primary care mental health services, 2003
McKinlay J.B., "A Case for Refocusing Upstream: The Political Economy of Illness", 1981 (Accessed April 2011) (Accessed April 2011)
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