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Journal article

Research watch: the power of genetic and biological explanations to reduce social inclusion

Author:
HOLTTUM Sue
Journal article citation:
Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 16(3), 2012, pp.116-120.
Publisher:
Emerald

This review summarises two recent research papers relating to the use of biological explanations. The first paper highlights how unhelpful it can be to over-use genetic explanations for various human experiences, and the second paper discusses the unhelpfulness of exclusively biological explanations for mental health conditions. The first paper explores the many ways in which genetic explanations are over-used to understand race, ethnicity, the sexes, sexual orientation, crime, mental health and obesity. This over-use of genetic explanations leads to various negative consequences, among them social exclusion, but may be counteracted by better explanations of both the relatively weak nature of genetic influences and how people's genes and environment interact. The second paper examines evidence about whether it is really helpful to think of mental health conditions as illnesses “like any other”. The author points to the need for promoting a more holistic understanding of human experience, and against focusing too narrowly on only one kind of cause, namely biological, and mostly on one aspect of biology – genes.

Journal article

Rainbow redemption: mental health takes centre stage

Author:
WILSON Latoya
Journal article citation:
Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 16(3), 2012, pp.135-138.
Publisher:
Emerald

This article explores the experience of using drama to demystify and destigmatise mental illness. Drama can be an effective way of increasing mental health awareness. It can also be an enjoyable way of getting across the message that even those who lack mental wellbeing have dreams and can achieve them. The article provides a descriptive account of a drama project from the perspectives of participants and the author. The innovative use of drama to promote mental wellbeing, the diverse partnerships that underpinned the production, and the positive impact on performers and audience are outlined. Key to success was good joint working between a range of health, social care and community agencies, as well as local service users. Financial resources for putting on the production provided by the local mental health trust were also crucial.

Journal article

Biogenetic explanations and public acceptance of mental illness: systematic review of population studies

Authors:
ANGERMEYER Matthias C., et al
Journal article citation:
British Journal of Psychiatry, 199(5), November 2011, pp.367-372.
Publisher:
Royal College of Psychiatrists

It is widely believed that biological or genetic models of mental illness will increase tolerance towards people with mental illness by countering perceptions of responsibility and blame. This review examined this hypothesis among the general public; whether such attributions are related to lower perceptions of guilt and responsibility, to what extent notions of responsibility are associated with rejection of people who are mentally ill, and how prevalent notions of responsibility are among the general public with regard to different mental disorders. Thirty three representative population studies examining attitudes towards people with mental illness and beliefs about such disorders were included in a systematic analysis. Generally, biogenetic causal attributions were not associated with more tolerant attitudes and they were related to stronger rejection in most studies examining schizophrenia. No published study reported on associations of biogenetic causal attributions and perceived responsibility. The stereotype of self-responsibility was unrelated to rejection in most studies. Public images of mental disorder are generally dominated by the stereotypes of unpredictability and dangerousness; responsibility was less relevant. The authors conclude that biogenetic causal models are an inappropriate means of reducing rejection of people with mental illness.

Journal article

Covering mental health: a comparison of the UK/US press

Author:
O'HARA Mary
Journal article citation:
Open Mind, 168, September 2011, pp.4-5.
Publisher:
MIND

Drawing on a comparison study of articles and headlines in national and regional newspapers from the UK and US, this article looks at the coverage of mental health issues between the years 1985 to 2009. The researched measured the tone on a four-point scale of neutral, positive, negative, sensationalist. It found that although there were few 'sensationalist' articles, there were significant differences between UK tabloids and broadsheets. Almost two thirds of all broadsheet articles were either neutral or positive, tabloid reporting was found to be more negative. Key findings and the implications for media campaigns are highlighted.

Journal article

Stigmatised attitudes towards the ‘stressed’ or ‘ill’ models of mental illness

Authors:
LUTY Jason, EASOW Joby Maducolil, MENDES Vania
Journal article citation:
Psychiatrist (The), 35(10), October 2011, pp.370-373.
Publisher:
Royal College of Psychiatrists

Tackling discrimination, stigma and inequalities in mental health is a major objective of the UK government. This aim of this research was to determine whether there was any difference in stigmatised attitudes towards a fictitious person with a mental illness who was presented either as having a biological illness or a disorder that arose from psychosocial stress to two randomised representative panels of the general public. The 20-point Attitude to Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ) was used to assess stigmatised attitudes. The two groups were presented with slightly different vignettes describing “Tim” and then asked to complete the questionnaire. Overall, 187 individuals returned their questionnaires (74% response rate). The mean AMIQ stigma score for the ‘ill’ group was 1.4; for the ‘stress’ group was 0.5. The authors conclude that there was no statistical or practical difference in the stigmatised attitudes towards a person with mental illness regardless of whether they were presented as biologically ill or as having an illness that was a response to psychosocial stress. Some limitations of the study are noted: the self-selecting participants, the possibility of social desirability bias and whether the values expressed would be enduring.

Journal article

Representations of elderly with mental health problems held by psychosocial practitioners from community and institutional settings

Authors:
DALLAIRE Bernadette, et al
Journal article citation:
Social Work in Mental Health, 7(1-3), 2008, pp.139-152.
Publisher:
Taylor and Francis
Place of publication:
Philadelphia, USA

This article begins by providing an overview of the prevalence of mental health problems  among people aged 65 and older, the specific situations and needs of this population, and the services provided to them. It then briefly discusses three trends in psychosocial interventions, that is practices oriented toward recovery, empowerment, and social integration are then reviewed.. Finally, the article looks at the cumulative impacts of social representations of aging and the aged and of mental illness and the mentally ill, and how they can impede the implementation of interventions, services and programs based on recovery, empowerment and social integration approaches.

Journal article

Making drama out of a crisis

Author:
WESTHEAD Robert
Journal article citation:
Mental Health Today, December 2010, pp.36-37.
Publisher:
Pavilion
Place of publication:
Hove

Shift, a Department of Heath funded programme, is working to tackle the discrimination associated mental health. As part of their work, Shift conducted a content analysis of 74 episodes from 34 different TV programmes containing mental illness storylines. Programmes contained a mixture of sympathetic and unsympathetic storylines. The BBC then hosted an event attended by drama executives, scriptwriters, programme commissioners across the media to explore new ways of portraying mental illness. Both the BBC and ITV have committed to holding meetings with their drama writers to discuss creating more authentic storylines about mental illness.

Digital Media

Finding the edge: a mental health resource for use with young people

Authors:
MIND IN CROYDON, (Producer)
Publisher:
MIND
Publication year:
2009
Pagination:
(54 mins.), DVD
Place of publication:
Croydon

This mental health resource has been designed for use when working with young people. The DVD explores some of the pressures which might contribute to poor mental health in young people, and examines how society views people with mental health problems and the impact of the resulting stigma.

Journal article

Mental health first aid: rolling out across the UK

Author:
TERRY Julia
Journal article citation:
Journal of Public Mental Health, 8(3), September 2009, pp.33-37.
Publisher:
Emerald

It has been identified that mental health literacy among the public is poor, with stigmatising attitudes persisting. The public frequently encounter people experiencing mental distress in the workplace, in their families and communities, and may be ill-equipped to provide appropriate support. Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour mental health awareness programme that seeks to address this. The course aims to train the wider public, and staff in both statutory and nonstatutory sectors, in the knowledge and skills needed to engage with someone experiencing mental health problems. ‘Mental Health First Aid’, first developed in Australia, has now become an international training programme, and is currently being rolled out across the UK. This paper summarises the development and existing research of the programme, and its present position in the four UK regions

Journal article

And now for the good news

Author:
HARDING Eleanor
Journal article citation:
Mental Health Today, September 2009, pp.16-18.
Publisher:
Pavilion
Place of publication:
Hove

The local press is a good way of reaching a diverse population to help tackle stigma around mental illness. This article reports on a mental health campaign, 'Mental Health: It's everyone's business', run in papers in south west London.

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