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This essay seeks to explore how personal accounts of mental distress can inform professional understanding and benefit the treatment process.

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Introduction

This essay seeks to explore how personal accounts of mental distress can inform professional understanding and benefit the treatment process. We begin with a brief outline of what defines mental health, moving on to look at the similarity and disagreements between psychology and medicine and the significance this has on how individuals are diagnosed and treated. It goes on to consider how professionals might receive personal accounts and how these accounts may benefit their professional understandings. However, personal accounts may not give the whole picture therefore, we will consider to what extent personal accounts provide a misleading or incomplete picture, and what cannot be known from personal experience alone. The word mental means 'of the mind' - thoughts, feelings & understanding of oneself and the world around us. The word health means the 'working order of the body and mind'. Therefore, mental health means the working order of thoughts and feelings. For centuries problems of the mind have been discussed and theorised in terms of 'sickness' inherent in the sufferer. For example, with regard to schizophrenia, various toxins or chemicals secreted by the body were implicated as far back as the 19th century by Emile Kraepelin et al (1883) who postulated a biological basis for problems of the mind. Throughout the 20th century the 'medical model' monopolised the phenomenon of the mind in distress, conceptualising problems of the mind like problems of the body. ...read more.

Middle

quotes "I regularly came into contact with many individuals suffering from depression. However in retrospect, I realise that I was totally oblivious to and ignorant of what these people, deep down were actually experiencing". Because of the positive and negative therapeutic insights gained by mental health professionals who have either personal or family experience of mental distress, an ongoing evaluation of ones practice must be balanced with careful introspection. Therapeutic insights that might be gained from these experiences include letting go of the shame, remembering particular strengths, knowing when you have regressed, learning when to get support and learning to appreciate your talents as a mental health professional. Mental distress is one of the least understood conditions in society. Because of this, many people face prejudice and discrimination in their everyday lives. Most people can leave productive and fulfilling lives with appropriate treatment and support. Treatments for mental distress take many different forms, including medication, psychotherapy, complimentary therapies, diet and exercise and self-help strategies. What works for one individual may not work for another. Some treatments work best in combination and sometimes an individual may prefer different treatments at different points in their life. If we look at Lorraine (K257, module 1, section 4, page 32) there is the suggestion that she could be suffering from depression. It may be that both the psychologist and psychiatrist would agree on the diagnosis, however, the treatment prescribed would be very different. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the most persistent complaints among service users is that professionals never listen (quoted Anthology, Ludlow, page 186-190. What people who suffer with mental distress want is a choice of good quality options. Choice, empowerment and control over a person's life are very important to good outcomes in mental health. However, it needs to recognise that too much choice can overwhelm people, particularly when they are unwell. One way to improve the situation is to enable professionals to empathise, to put themselves in the place of the other person. Mental health professionals who have personal or family experience with mental distress may bring a bias or suffer from counter transference, however, these individuals bring to work a unique perspective that is born from shared suffering and shared hope. BIBLIGORAPHY Hinsie, J & Campbell, R (1970), Psychiatric Dictionary, 4th Edition, New York; Oxford University Press Kraepelin, E et al(1883), Lehrbuchder Psychiatrie (1883, 8th Edition 1915), Clinical Psychology Read, J & Reynolds, J (1996) Speaking Our Minds: An Anthology, Open University Press K257 Course Team (1997) Section 1: What is Mental Health, in The contested Nature of Mental Health, Module 1 of K257 Mental Health & Distress K257 Course Team (1997) Section 4: Frameworks for Understanding, in The contested Nature of Mental Health, Module 1 of K257 Mental Health & Distress K257 Course Team (1997) Section 6: Policing the Dividing Line, in The contested Nature of Mental Health, Module 1 of K257 Mental Health & Distress Debbie Heyes - T5029463 TMA 01 - K257 1 ...read more.

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