Concept of mental health

June 9,2021

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

Health is defined as a holistic state of being. WHO defines health as a " state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO 1946)". Physical and mental component interreacts with social-environmental aspects to yield a state of health. Physical component of health focuses on biology of a body. Whereas mental component has following three domains:

1. Emotional domain

2. Cognitive domain

3. Behavioral Domain

Disease vs. Illness vs. Sickness vs. Disorder

We encounter the following terms which sometimes are used interchangeably. However, it is important to become familiar with the essence of the terms. The term Disease generally refer to the pathophysiology. It represents the biological state of abnormality. Whereas illness represents the experience of disease. So for example, some individuals may say I am feeling ill. On the other hand, the term sickness implies the social role that one plays when someone has disease or when someone is feeling ill. Someone calls his or her manager to give information of being sick.

On the other hand, the term disorder is used when we refer abnormality of mental health. Disorder implies the disturbance in the daily order of the person whoever has that condition. Although, one may find the term mental illness, we suggest you to use disorder.

Mental Health and Mental Illness

Mental Health...

involves effective functioning in daily activities resulting in Productive activities (work, school, caregiving) Healthy relationships Ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity (कठिनाई )

Mental Illness...

refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders — health conditions involving Significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior Distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities

Defining mental health disorder

One of the leading authority of mental health, American Psychiatric Association (APA, 19XX), defines mental disorder as following. "A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above."

If we carefully read this long definition, we see the following points:

  1. A behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual
  2. That reflects an underlying psychobiological dysfunction
  3. The consequences of which are clinically significant distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning).
  4. Must not be merely an expectable response to common stressors and losses (for example, the loss of a loved one) or a culturally sanctioned response to a particular event (for example, trance states in religious rituals)
  5. That is not primarily a result of social deviance or conflicts with society.

Psychopathology and it's Approaches

The term Psychopathology is often used in clinical/hospital where as mental health is more general sense by general public to represent overall wellbeing of an individual. The term psychopathology has two usages;

1) A study of mental health. It studies the diagnosis, etiology (causes), treatment, and management of a mental disorder.

2) To simply mean a disorder. For example, if someone has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If any anyone asking what is his/her psychopathology means could means what is the disorder of the person. In addition, the term Psychopathology often used in clinical/hospital setup versus term mental health which is more general term that is used to represent overall wellbeing of an individual by genral public.

Approaches in Psychopathology

Descriptive psychopathology:

It is also called phenomenological psychopathology has been the basis for diagnostic formulation. It describes the signs and symptoms as a person experiences. It doesn't talk about causes. Interpretative psychopathology: It is also called analytical psychopathology had has been the basis of for therapeutic formulation. It mostly theorizes the potential causes or underlying issues.

Experimental Psychopathology: It focuses on empirical evidences of causes and treatment. For example, clinical trial are conducted the efficacy of the treatment regimen.

Concept of abnormality.

There is no one universally acceptable definition of abnormality. In general sense, any socially deviant behavior may be called abnormal behavior. However, this definition limits abnormality to statistical and To label any experience or behavior as normal or abnormal, one has to know what constitutes normal. In general sense, there are four norms of abnormality. There are four forms/norms of abnormality in general

Ideal Norm

Statistical Norm

Social/geographical Norm

Individual Norm