How might a holistic model help in explaining the experience of mental health?

Authors Avatar by kellsomcnal (student)

[Type text]

TMA 01

How might a holistic model help in explaining the experience of mental health?

What is mental distress? Mental distress is when someone experiences changes in their thoughts and feelings. Their behaviour will be significantly different, both in themselves, and how they behave around others. This greatly interferes with their home life, work life, social life and their relationships they have with others. Examples of mental distress would be anxiety disorder, depression and schizophrenia.  (Ethomed, 2003)

What is holism? The dictionary definition of holism (from the Greek holos) states that nothing can be fully understood unless one sees the whole system of which it is part; that is the whole is always more than the sum of its parts. (Oxford Dictionary, 2013) What is a holistic approach with regards to health care? The holistic approach is a model, which is made up of 5 different dimensions, and would be perfectly suited to use in the treatment of mental illness. What this means is, that the illness (disease) is viewed as affecting a person’s mind, body and spirit, and each of those dimensions are equally as important as the other. Holism is a reaction to medical approaches.

The holistic view acknowledges objective scientific explanations of physiology and accepts that people have inner experiences that are subjective, mystical, and spiritual or religious, which can affect their well-being and health beliefs.

The five dimensions of the model are physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual/personal meaning (The Open University, 2010, p.23). In the centre of the holistic model is the service user. When one of these dimensions is changed / altered there will be an impact on the other dimensions. This will then lead on to changes, and those changes can be seen in both the cause of mental distress, and the potential responses to it. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, but more importantly, to promote optimal health.

The British Holistic Medical Association’s (BHMA) mission statement is:

“To educate doctors, medical students, allied health professionals and members of the general public in the principles and practice of holistic medicine”

BHMA (cited in The Open University, 2010, p. 44)

When deciding on the diagnosis of an illness, and how best to treat it, all dimensions of the holistic model must be considered. This will then lead on to the person being treated as a whole i.e., holistically. Treating the service user using other medical perspectives is of course possible; however, no other single model can do everything that the holistic model can. Two other perspectives that could be considered for treatment of the service user, who is suffering from mental distress, could be the biomedical model, and the bio-psychosocial model.

The biomedical model has governed the thinking of health practitioners for quite some time. It tells us that illness can be explained biologically and it assumes that psychological and social processes are independent of the disease process. The biomedical model emphasises a mind-body dualism in which the mind and the body function as separate entities. Examples of this would be the split between general nursing and mental health nursing, or the split between a medical doctor and a psychiatrist. (The Open University, 2010, pg. 109-112). In this model, the treatment of illness is emphasised over the promotion of health. Health is viewed as the absence of disease (Wise Geek, 2013)

Join now!

George Engel (1977) challenged health care practitioners regarding their use of the then, widely used, biomedical model. He suggested moving towards a new medical approach. That new approach was the bio-psychosocial approach; named because of the importance of biological, psychological and social factors. Applying the bio-psychosocial approach to health care, requires recognition that good relationships are vital, for providing adequate and fulfilling health care. Self-awareness must be used as a diagnostic, and therapeutic tool, and decisions need to be made regarding  what aspects of the biological, psychological and social domains are most important to understanding the service users’ needs; ...

This is a preview of the whole essay