Essentially, sociology infers to the study of the development, functioning as well as structure of human society. It is a broad discipline that involves several concepts such as understanding the social patterns as well as the implication of sex, sexuality and gender and its impact on the workplace, economy and the family life. Ethnicity, race, and age are the main concepts of sociology. It focuses on understanding the wellbeing of the society, including the health situation of the society. A healthy society denotes a prosperous society thus illustrating the necessity of placing greater precedence on the health situation of the society. This paper, therefore, seeks to look into different health issues in the society. It will specifically provide a critique of the sociological approach to mental illness about other approaches. Moreover, it will also look into the environmental and social factors that result into the medicalization of a disease.
Sociology of Mental Illness
One of the fastest-growing areas of sociology regards the social causes and impacts of mental illness and health. Mental health and illness have accrued detrimental consequences such as stress and disadvantaged statuses. The sociological theory of mental health became more prevalent in the mid-1980s still and is still relevant as it continues to guide several sociological studies. According to this theory, mental illness issues are mainly caused by exposure to social stress which comes as a result of life experiences and social status and being vulnerable to stress. Similarly, according to the theory some of the social determinants that are more likely to result in a mental health situation include social statuses such as gender, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and race. There are two types of the sociological approach to mental illness. The first type of the sociological approach is that social situations result in mental illness. Poverty is more likely to result in a situation where an individual cannot control. This is more likely to make the individual develop anxiety. Researchers have greatly criticized this theory; they argue that the theory is hard to test since most of the researchers use classifications systems that rely on the job of the individual, the last job an individual did or the main earner of the family. Similarly, if an individual was in the good and well-paying job then abruptly becomes mentally ill, they are more likely to give up the job thus will no longer be in the same social class. Furthermore, the theory fathoms that medication is not the cause of the problem and instead states that the cause of the problem was the situation of the ailing individual placed in (Scheid, Teresa & Ton, 45). The other social model is the theory of labeling which enunciates that the behaviors disliked by the community are a symptom of a psychiatric illness. When this occurs the individual builds a perception that they have a mental illness. They lose their job and consequently their status in society. Persons following this theory think that the use of medication is not necessary and that the problem lies with the society’s definition of what normal behavior is.
The sociological approach to mental illness is slightly different with other mental disorders approaches. They all differ in ideologies, for instance, the psychological approach to mental illness fathoms that the cause of mental illness can be determined if a psychologist examines the psychology of the individual. This model places much emphasis on the cognitive behavioral therapy and the psychoanalysis. They are thus different in the sense that the sociological approach places emphasis on sociological factors such as economic and social status whereas psychological approaches believe on the feedback obtained by a psychologist regarding the psychology of the individual.
Similarly, the biological approach of mental illness believes on the school of thought that mental illness is just like any other physical ailment. Just as other illnesses it has physical causes that require physical treatment. They believe that mental illness accrues from chemical imbalances. The neurotransmitter is the main chemical that is associated with mental illness. This is in contrast with the sociological perspective that focuses on the social norms of the society.
Social stigma to mental illness refers to the prejudice that individuals suffering from mental illness turn against themselves. Social stigma accrues different impacts the manner in which health services are received or administered. Social stigma limits an individual’s ability to find a safe place to live, get and keep an employment opportunity, taking part in social activities, obtaining loans or insurance and attending college or university. It also limits a person to be accepted by their friends, family as well as the community, obtaining loans or insurance and volunteering within the community. Discrimination and prejudice often become internalized by individuals with mental illness. This results into self-stigmatize that is believing the bad things other people say about us. Low self-esteem is also most likely to be experienced. It also makes these people keep their problems to themselves. When these patients suffering from self-stigmatization and mental illness keep relevant and important problems to themselves, they avoid getting important help they could have received from their doctors. Their substance use problems or mental health are less likely to obtain quick and better recovery. Furthermore, they risk suffering from depression, isolation and increased risk of suicide. In order to gain better healthcare service provision, the patient must be willing to share their problems the symptoms they are suffering from as other cannot be detected from machines. Failure to share important information they are more likely to receive incomplete medication thus hindering the process of administering and receiving the healthcare services.
Social and Environmental Factors Contribute to the Medicalization of an Illness
For effective medicalization of an illness, not only do patient factors matter but also external factors surrounding the patient and the facility. Environmental factors and social factors are examples of factors that play an integral role. The social factor plays a greater function. When an individual is mentally ill, he or she needs to be close to their families and friends, the people they treasure the most. Close family members and friends provides the necessary moral support to the patient, such kind of support not only fastens the process of healing but also improves the psychological needs. They feel part of a family, that they are cared and loved by their relatives. Conversely, when a patient is left on their own without any visitation from the friends and relatives, the patient’s health condition is more likely to depreciate(Scheid, Teresa & Ton, 45). This is because they will have a feeling that they have been neglected, rejected, not loved, not cared for among other negative attributes. They feel like they are a bother and feel useless about themselves. This makes them have reduced self-esteem results into depression and anxiety. Furthermore, when they are sick there social status also depreciates as they are more likely to get demoted or retrenched in case the mental illness persists. When their social status reduces, they become more frustrated and depressed.
They are extensively influenced by social factors. They are also affected by the environmental factors. Environmental factors entail things such as the weather condition, climate and demographical population. The climate of an environment greatly affects people. There is more likelihood that an individual is likely to get a disease when they are subjected to extreme weather conditions such as extreme sunshine or rain. Similarly, environmental calamities such as floods, drought, and earthquakes are more likely to intrigue illnesses of different kinds. As much as these environmental conditions may not be directly associated to mental problems, they still indirectly contribute. Besides the weather and climate concerns, the external factors such as the economic viability of an individual can intrigue mental disorder. When a person strains to sustains him or herself together with the family they become more frustrated and may result in building mental disorders. There are always some other factors such as political and traditional factors. There are certain traditions especially in the third world countries do not recommend their followers to seek for medical attention in hospitals. They believe on traditional medical drugs even for personal with mental problems are treated using the traditional mediacian groan.
Consequences of Medicalizing an Illness
Medicalization simply refers to the process by which people problems and human conditions to be treated and then becomes the topic of medical diagnosis, study, treatment and prevention. The process of medicalizing can be termed as a blessing in disguise as it accrues both positive and negative impacts. On the negative side medicalization can be regarded as a harm that originates from dependence as well as losing of a self-determination. In the modern world people are greatly relying on doctors to find solutions to their problems. Furthermore, it is argued that we are soon losing the human individual. It is perceived as the psychiatrist that needs to offer an individual assistance and not any immediate neighbor. Conversely, every person desires to have a healthy life. We all want to live more comfortable and longer. No one desires to have a back pain nor a when they are doing their operations. Therefore, in order to keep away from such hazards it is important. The problem with this system of medicalizing is that some people do not adhere to its conditions and sessions and therefore, not realizing the needed medical assistance.
Medicalizing is also beneficial as it helps in reducing the social discrimination since it focuses on prevention measures. This is because it offers treatment to everyone regardless of their background. However, medicalizing can also result into negative consequences, for instance, it can label an individual as sick and yet they might all be healthy.
In conclusion, this paper seeks to look into different health issues in the society. It will specifically provide a critique of the sociological approach to mental illness in relation to other approaches. Moreover, it will also look into the environmental and social factors that result into the medicalization of a disease.
Scheid, Teresa L, and Tony N. Brown. A Handbook for the Study of Mental Health: Social Contexts, Theories, and Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
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