Understanding Mental Health Problems

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Most people probably believe that there is as much agreement as to what defines a mental health problem as there is in defining a physical health problem, and therefore what should be done if someone is experiencing such a problem. We all understand the terms “pain” and “distress” and if we were experiencing them we would want help to get rid of them. Yet recent research has shown what many people with mental health problems, their families, and the professionals who look after them have long known about; that there are very different perspectives and understandings of mental health problems. Opinions vary significantly even when different people are presented with the same situation involving someone apparently experiencing mental distress…show more content…
Because mental health and mental health problems involve our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values in a way that physical health does not, these same factors also come into play when mental health problems are being assessed. And this becomes even more complicated when it involves people from different ethnic groups. Getting a diagnosis or assessment wrong can have devastating consequences for individuals because it may involve being forcibly detained and treated against one’s will, and being subject to stigma, discrimination and social exclusion. Correspondingly, understanding the different values people may use when assessing or understanding mental health problems could enable people to be much clearer and more honest in these situations, leading to better relationships between people with mental health problems and mental health services, and ultimately better…show more content…
Values-based approaches have thus far been developed mainly in relation to how mental health issues are managed: for example, the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) Values Framework was a framework for values-based practice (this can be found on page 25, Woodbridge & Fulford, 2004); the Ten Essential Shared Capabilities (Department of Health, 2004) build equally on evidence-based and values-based sources; and the training materials for the new Mental Health Act have been developed within a values-based framework (Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP), and NIMHE, 2008). Values-based practice, however, emphasizes the importance of values, not only in how mental health issues are managed but also in the models of disorder that we use to understand them in the first place. These models of disorder include medical diagnoses, such as ‘schizophrenia’, but also social and stress-related, psychological, family and a wide range of other ways of understanding mental distress and disorder. NIMHE and CSIP recently published the results of a consultation involving all stakeholders on a shared vision of best practice in assessment as a crucial aspect

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