Clarity Needed for What Represents a 'Mental Health Problem'

Specifically, the study authors noted that input from non-medical professions and service users may be beneficial to support this process.

To better assess, diagnose, research, and treat mental health problems, researchers from the University of Bath and Bern University of Applied Sciences examined over 100 publications which referenced “mental health” or “mental illness” and identified 34 different theoretical models used by practitioners and users of mental health services.

The team found no criteria which could be used to prioritize why 1 model might be used over the other in certain situations. Clarity around model prioritization is potentially important since mental health problems are understood to have lasting consequences for how people with these issues are assessed and supported.

The criteria ranged from biological models to psychological or sociological to models which were informed by consumer and cultural considerations.

The researchers noted that their findings have important implications in view of the steep increase in mental health problems diagnosed.

“Uncertainties about what constitutes a mental health problem have become more pronounced in recent decades due to the increase in the number of mental health conditions being identified in the manuals which are used by general practitioners and psychiatrists,” said the study’s co-researcher Jeremy Dixon, MD, of the University of Bath’s Department of Social & Policy Sciences and Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy, in a press release.

Because of this increase in the number of potential mental health conditions that could be considered for diagnoses, greater clarity is needed to differentiate diagnosis criteria based on how different and potentially diminishing mental health models could be used in practice. Specifically, the study authors noted that input from non-medical professions and service users may be beneficial to support this process.

“Mental health practitioners tend to say that they use a bio-psycho-social model in their everyday work, but our research shows that this model is fracturing,” Dixon said in the press release. “Whilst this field has been dominated by psychiatry and psychology, the perspectives of users of services and other professionals such as nurses and social workers are now beginning to be heard.”

REFERENCE

Researchers call for greater clarity over what constitutes a ‘mental health problem’. University of Bath. February 11, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2022. https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/researchers-call-for-greater-clarity-over-what-constitutes-a-mental-health-problem/

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