All change, individual or collective, stems from discontent or dissatisfaction with the status quo. The same is true of mainstream Psychology. The 1940’s through to the mid 1960’s gave rise to Community Health Psychology and The Public Health Psychology. Both these movements are concerned with prevention and the need to address social injustices and structures to include the community and society at large and not just the elitist minority. Neither Community Health nor the Public Health Model is self- contained within psychology alone, but draws on socio, economic and the political arenas when addressing cause and effect.Both models are involved in creating settings for community involvement and the study of social support and manners in which to enhance this support.
They stress skill building and competence and examine similar issues although Community Psychology tends to go a bit broader. The main models within Community Psychology(CP) are the Mental Health Model and the Social Action Model as they represent “polarities of the continuum in community psychology” (Seedat,M , Cloete,N & Shochet, I (1998).Prevention is achieved through education and empowerment and focus extends from behavioural aspects of health to issues such as substance abuse, crime, violence, and racism.
Public Health on the other hand, focuses on traditional health concerns, via lifestyle change, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer and the like and is based on the bio-medical model. The aim is to promote a longer and better life. It is very scientific and practical with measureable goals over time.Both models view the individual’s behavior and situation as being determined by the environment with no free will involved. For change to occur it has to be effective at community level and in the case of Public Health, societal level. The level of prevalence needs to be contained and the incidence decreased as highlighted by the example of the dentist used by Albee (as cited in Gernina,Z. 1995).
One person visiting the dentist and having good teeth is not going to have any effect on the teeth of his children and those around him.https://healtheappointments.com/social-problems-in-morocco-essays/Awareness has to be created on the benefits of oral hygiene, diet and adding fluoride to the water. This concept is shared with The Social Action model’s call for empowerment and is supported in the Social Medicine platform of the Public Health Approach on sanitation and hygiene. Once people have more resources available to them, they are better prepared to participate within society. Society and people are not separate but are rather aligned with each other. It is through education, empowerment, concern for each other and chiefly the addressing of financial issues that health can be achieved.
The community has to mobilize and become involved in projects at grass roots level eg community clinics, developing of social skills and generating opportunities, (Lewis & Lewis, 1979) as cited in Seedat,M, Cloete,N and Schochet, I( 1988 ), to bring about an effective and positive change and where the therapist acts in the capacity of advisor only. The aim behind a good treatment programme /intervention is the prevention of any disruption on everyday life. This is very clear within the Mental Health Model and I think undoubtedly it’s strongest trait.It involves both the individual and the community, and acts as a back-up, should initial strategies be ineffective. A three -tier structure, namely primary, secondary and tertiary intervention exists. A good example to illustrate this would be alcoholism or substance abuse. On a primary intervention, campaigns warn off the harmful effects of substances abuse. The secondary intervention is the abuse itself, the ability to recognise the symptoms and treatment via rehabilitation or counseling, whilst tertiary intervention is the support that is offered after rehabilitation.
Here organisations like Alcoholics Anonymous come into play, to prevent relapses and to offer maximum support. I believe the Public Health Model to be a very strong, workable model. Like the above model, it has empowerment on various levels and takes into account the various social and behavioural sciences and it’s impact on the individual.
It attempts to know it and integrate it as part of the model rather than a model within it. It realizes the importance of understanding and manipulating these sciences to the desired end. However a strong criticism of this model is that the participants are viewed as being passive.There doesn’t seem to be any push from the individual himself but merely society restructuring to accommodate him on all levels. Also it does not take into account religious and traditional beliefs. In western society sharing of utensils is unhygienic, yet in African society it is almost the norm.
The Community Psychology and Public Health models believes that society shapes what behavior is learnt and states that this behavior can be unlearnt. What if the individual chooses not to unlearn or adapt his behavior? Contrary to popular belief, free will reigns within all of us and cannot be dismissed lightly.Also there seems to be this notion that the middle and upper classes are free from any problems as all mention of social injustice and restructuring is aimed at the lower social spectrum. Is it not possible that the restructuring of society can be detrimental to society in itself? Any psychological model has a lot to offer.
It’s a model because it’s passed the tests and is in use. The same applies to the above. We work with what we have and we borrow when we have to. Specific situations determine that and who we’re borrowing from but if it works it’s a job well done.
REFERENCES: 1. Gilbert, L (1995) .Sociology and the “New Public Health” in South Africa, from South African Journal of Sociology, 5:115-124. 2. Guernina,Z (1995).
Community and health psychology in practice: Professor George Albee interviewed by Dr. Zoubida Guernina, from Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 5: 217-214. 3. Seedat, M , Cloete, N & Shochet, I.
(1988) Community psychology: panic or panacea, from Psychology in Society, 11:39-54. 4. Yach, D & Tollman , S. M. (1993) `public health initiatives in South Africa in the 190’s and 1950s: lessons for a post apartheid era, from Public Health Then and Now, 83(7): 1043-1050.