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Rethinking mental health and well-being

Professor Peter Kinderman of the University of Liverpool proposes a radical new ‘manifesto’ for mental health and well-being ahead of the free online course, ‘Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture‘. You can follow Peter on Twitter @peterkinderman and join the conversation using #FLmentalhealth.

Professor Peter Kinderman.

Professionals working in the field of mental health care are facing major changes in the way we understand emotional distress and offer help to patients.

Traditional approaches to mental health problems, including the use of diagnosis, assume that symptoms are the consequence of biological illnesses. This is now being challenged, along with the reliance on medication for treatment, by new research that suggests environmental, social and psychological factors are more important than previously thought.

Advances in understanding human psychology

This rethink has been prompted by recent scientific advances in understanding human psychology. These suggest that traditional ‘disease-model’ thinking about mental health is profoundly flawed, and far-reaching changes are required in how we plan and commission services.

Our present approach to helping people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned and unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems. Vulnerable people suffer as a result of this inappropriate treatment.

The time has come for a wholesale reform of mental health services. We must move away from the ‘disease-model’, which assumes that emotional distress is merely symptomatic of biological illness, and instead embrace a model of mental health and well-being that recognises our essential and shared humanity.

A radical new ‘manifesto’ for mental health and well-being

In the free online course, ‘Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture‘, which starts next month, we’ll be exploring some of these issues, before proposing a radical new ‘manifesto’ for mental health and well-being.

We’ll look at why services should be based on the premise that the origins of distress are largely social and why we should replace ‘diagnoses’ with straightforward descriptions of problems.

We’ll ask whether health services should radically reduce the use of medication, and use it pragmatically rather than presenting it as ‘treatment’. We’ll also look at how to establish residential services based on a social, rather than medical, ethos.

Adopting this approach could result in a fundamental shift from a medical to a psychosocial focus. It could see a move from hospital to residential social care, and a substantial reduction in the prescription of medication.

Join us, to discover how this new approach could improve our mental health and well-being.

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