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.
20090348 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 vsale, 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. (archives.
gov, 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) 20090348 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) 20090348 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 (nice. org.
uk, 2009)At a national level, social policies are developed to protect certain groups in society, such as immigrants, asylum seekers, single mothers, the mentally ill, individuals who experience learning disabilities, the elderly, individuals with physical disabilities and prisoners in order to prevent them becoming victim to racism, intolerance or prejudice. 20090348 The Ottawa Charter recognised that there was a link between individuals and their community.It stated there were eight fundamental conditions in a community in which it will become and remain healthy. These are; peace, access to shelter, education, food, an income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity. The Charter stated that public health promotion policies should be community focused and inclusive.
(WHO, 1986) 20090348 Social polices recognise paradigm shifts in a society’s collective imagination.For example, in the 1960’s homosexuality was a criminal offence, however, the law was changed in 1967 and homosexual couples now enjoy the same rights as straight couples, including civil partnerships, which are equivalent in every way to legal marriages, except they do not automatically contain a religious component.A survey conducted by ‘Populus’ for the Times in 2009 found that the vast majority of the British public now support gay people’s rights, such as the right to marry, adopt children and have equality in the same way as straight couples. (populuslimited. com, 2009) On a personal level, it is perhaps self evident, that maintaining life and emotional well being is the primary force for all human beings, with only very few exceptions.(Freud, 1929) This can also be said for societies and communities within those societies, as they cannot function adequately if the individuals making up the whole are unwell. (Hooft, 2000) A society must support the health of its members in order to achieve and maintain prosperity.
Consequently it is the responsibility of governments to focus social policy on promoting mental well-being. It is certainly the case that ‘prevention is better than the cure’. 20090348 Mental illness poses a significant burden to societies, communities, families and for the individual in question.Certainly the severity and nature of the illness will ultimately affect how heavy this burden will be. Professor Louis Appleby CBE, National Clinical Director for Health and Criminal Justice stated, “Depression is now a bigger problem than heart disease, as it is very common.
1 in 6 from the adult population suffers from depression at any time but only 1 in 4 of those is in current treatment. ” (Appleby, 2010) There is evidence that all individuals will experience some form of mental illness at some point throughout their lives. (Bayer and Peay, 1997)Financially the cost to UK society of mental illness is immense and is increasing, in 2001-02, it was purported to be ? 3. 6 billion and this had risen to ? 5 billion by 2006-07. (National Institute for Mental Health) It has been estimated that a saving of ? 3. 1 billion a year could be made with improved mental health care. (McDaid et al, 2008) 20090348 Historically, it has been difficult to accurately assess the actual incidences of individuals who present as being mentally unwell.
Certainly there has been reluctance for doctors to diagnose often vague symptoms, which the individual themselves may find difficult to explain. Doctors, trained in medicine, have often found they lack skills when treating disorders involving, emotions, beliefs and thoughts. James Brook, in his online debate argues that the mind is metaphysical concept and therefore cannot become ill.(Powell and Brooks ,2011) Some reports claim that as few as 40% of people with a significant mood, anxiety or substance misuse problems will actually seek help in the first year of the problem becoming apparent. (McCulloch, 2003) However, alongside the financial burden comes the burden to the individual, their carers, friends and family.It is therefore essential that any individual at risk of developing a mental health problem, not be treated in isolation and not just for the recordable ‘symptoms’ following a diagnosis.
20090348 Aaron Antonvsky coined the term Salutogenesis to describe approaches which focus on supporting human health and well-being, rather on the causes of disease. He felt that health was a continuum from “health-ease versus dis-ease continuum”.More specifically, the “salutogenic model” is concerned with the relationship between health, stress, and coping. He believed that the outcome of disease or potentially disabling stress was offset by what he termed ‘generalised resistance resources’ (GRR’s). It was these GRR’s that he felt needed to be promoted by society in order that they cope with life stressors and ultimately reduce the harmful effects of any potential disease (Antonvsky, 1996)Minkler, (1994), described the ‘ten commandments of Community Health education’ she felt needed to be in place for communities to develop effective health promotion strategies. These included such aspects as ‘listening to the people’ and using humour and laughter.
She also felt it was important to keep mental illness in the public eye by ‘politicisation of mental illness’ and by providing education regarding mental illness. Minkler also suggested ‘thinking globally but acting locally’. 20090348 Currently, in the UK there are many examples of mental health promotion activities;The ‘Celebrating our Cultures’, report from the Institute of Mental Health (2004) examined the work of many different grassroots groups that were providing support and education for people encountering mental illness in many culturally diverse groups.It offers support for individuals working locally to plan and deliver interventions which meet the needs of black and minority ethnic communities, shared information of successful examples of mental health promotion with different communities and in a range of settings, evaluates the success of these groups within their own particular community and provides information and education regarding mental illness based on current evidence to support it.(Scott, 2004) 20090348 One local health promotion organisation examines the needs of the community in Wiltshire, which is a mostly rural location, in the southwest of England.
Mental health problems have come to the fore front as changes in the countryside, unemployment, transport, social isolation and stigma have played their part in effecting the mental health of individuals in that community.This, alongside the very real needs of service personnel being repatriated from overseas conflicts to RAF Lyneham at Wooton Bassett have added extra burdens to mental health services in the area (Norris, 2008) In order to evaluate any of these mental health promotion strategies it is important to have formulised methods to evaluate them. For example The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being scale is a psychometric scale that concentrates entirely on positive aspects of mental health of any given population.
Its central focus is evaluating mental health promotion initiatives.This will allow groups who provide support for mental health promotion information as to what is and what is not effective. (Tennant et al, 2007) 20090348 McKinlay (1981), his book ‘A Case for Refocusing Upstream’ tells us a story, ‘He was sitting by the river one nice sunny day when he heard a shout and saw someone in the middle of the river clearly struggling to stay afloat. He dived in and rescued them.
They had taken in a fair bit of water so required resuscitation, which he duly performed. Just as that person was ok, he heard another shout and lo and behold another person was in trouble.Of course he dived in and rescued that person too. Just as they were coming around, another shout! A third person had to be rescued. This went on for some time until he became exhausted and started to think about what was going on upstream that was causing all these people to end up in the river in such distress. So he headed up for a look. This is, in essence, what health promotion is.
Of course people need to be rescued and brought back to full health BUT someone also needs to go upstream and figure out why there are so many people needing to be rescued.” 20090348 Social policy that focuses on mental health promotion recognises that individuals may, at some point in their lives experience mental distress. It recognises that this may be the experience for the majority of individuals in any given community. It is certainly true that modern life is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.These changes create unique opportunities for individuals throughout society.
Society now recognises the importance of contributions from many diverse groups. However, changes at this rate do have a negative effect on the mental health and the well-being of the members of society. This is certainly the case when individuals are exposed to environments with high rates of crime, violence, delinquency, substance use, abuse, and poverty.However, with robust social policies which counteract the negative effects of modern life, these effects can be at least partially ameliorated by social policies that promote mental wellbeing, respond to crises, maintain effective mental health care, evaluate effectiveness and are transparent to the public. Word count 1886 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 Akers R and Sellers C, Criminological Theories,Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications, 2004 Bayer J and Peay M, Predicting intentions to seek help from professional mental health services, Department of Psychology, School of Behavioural Science, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1997 Behr E. , Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America.
New York, 1996 Callan S.Breakthrough Britain, Policy Recommendations to the Conservative Party, 2007 Freud S., Civilisation and its discontents, Washington Press, 1929 Gerrig R. , & Zimbardo P. G. Psychology And Life, Allyn and Bacon, 2002 Hawkins, J. D. & Catalano, M.
A. Communities that Care, Promoting science-based prevention in communities, Addictive Behaviours, 2002 National Institute for Mental Health in England, Making it possible: improving mental health and well-being in England, 2005 McDaid, D. , Zechmeister, I., Kilian, R. , Medeiros, H. , Knapp, M. , Kennelly, B.
, & the MHEEN Group, Making the economic case for the promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental health problems.London, 2008 Learning new environmental (www. mind.
org. uk, 2010) Price R. and Harper G. , A framework for understanding the social impacts of policy and their effects on wellbeing, April 2011 Powell L. and Brooks J. , Is mental health a medical issue? , online debate, March 2011 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 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, First International Conference on Health Promotion, WHO, 1986 Scott J., Celebrating our Cultures: Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion with Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, National Institute for Mental Health in England, 2004 Smedley B D. , Leonard Syme B D.
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