Understanding the Impact of Social Media on Mental Health


The Mental illness according to DSM-IV is referred to the psychological syndrome that is related to distress, disability, increased death risk, significant loss of autonomy and others. Moreover, the mental disorder mainly affects the mood, behaviour and emotions of the individuals which make them react to the society and its surroundings in a hindered manner. In this assignment, three models are to be discussed to explain mental illness. In addition, the way public and media attitudes react towards people with mental illness are to be analysed along with the way discrimination and stereotyping of mental illness impact individuals are to be evaluated.


Evaluating the models used for explaining mental ill-health

The biomedical model of mental health informs that psychiatric disorders are caused due to diseases of the brain and emphasise that effective pharmacological intervention which is targeted to specific abnormalities are able to treat mental illness (Deacon, 2013). The biomedical model can be applied to inform about the reason behind the development of mental illness such as schizophrenia and the way to treat the mental disorder. In the study of Slifstein et al. (2015), it is mentioned that mental illness like schizophrenia occurs due to brain disorder. This is evident as analysis of the brain of schizophrenic and normal individuals to develop real-time maps of regional flow of blood and metabolism with Positron Emission Technology (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) informed that there is lower activity in the brain of schizophrenic patients in key areas compared to normal individuals. This indicates schizophrenic individuals have functional defects in the brain which leads them to express signs and symptoms regarding the disease.

The study by Hu et al. (2015) informs that on reviewing post-mortem studies of brain tissues from schizophrenic individuals it was seen that there was alteration in the dendrites morphology of the glutamatergic neurons present in the cerebral cortex region of the brain compared to normal individuals. The glutamatergic neurons with proper morphological dendrites act to produce and transport glutamate in the brain to control neuronal excitability involved in letting the person learn and memorise (McCullumsmith et al. 2016). Thus, the facts support the biomedical model by indicating that mental illness like schizophrenia occurs as a result of improper brain functioning and morphological neuronal defects in the brain. The NICE mentions that signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can be treated and controlled by using antipsychotic medications such as Aripiprazole, Olanzapine, Risperidone and others (NICE, 2013). This informs that mental illness such as schizophrenia as per biomedical model can be resolved through pharmacological intervention.

The behavioural model regarding mental illness informs that abnormal behaviours are adopted through interaction between one’s environment and surrounding. Thus, physicians following the model prioritise change in behaviour instead of identifying the cause of dysfunctional behaviour (Aschbrenner et al. 2016). As asserted by Howes et al. (2017), stress leads to hinder the proper production of cortisol which in turn damages the area of the brain known as hippocampus. This indicates that stressful experiences lead people to get affected by schizophrenia as their normal emotions, memory, learning and motivation controlled by the hippocampus is damaged in the process. Thus, it supports behavioural model regarding mental illness as stressful environment are responsible to give rise to schizophrenia. The psychological counselling through the use of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is seen to be used for helping individuals with schizophrenia showed changed behaviour and emotions indicating copping with the health disorder (NHS, 2018). Thus, it also informs behavioural model is effective to ensure treatment for mental illness such as schizophrenia as change in behaviour is focussed in the intervention to cope with the illness.

The Recovery Model for mental illness informs that an individual’s potential to recover is to be supported by developing hope and a secure base for them by empowering them regarding the way to adopt coping skills and develop social inclusion as well as supportive relationships (Chan et al. 2017). In the study of Hasan and Musleh (2017), it is informed that of 112 patients identified with schizophrenia on involving them in a 6 weeks intervention program where face-to-face discussions were made and information booklets were provided to patients regarding the way they can ensure self-care in addition to medications was provided as usual. The 3-month follow up score indicates that all the patients showed improvement in helplessness score indicating they became more dependent to take their own care. Moreover, improvement in their quality of life along with recovery rate was also seen. Thus, it informs that proper support as per recovery model is effective to treat and manage mental illness such as schizophrenia.

Analysing public and media attitudes for people having mental illness

The media in the UK shows both negative attitudes regarding schizophrenia by portraying people with the illness to be violent. This is evident as in the study of 2012 it was reported that 80% of the main characters who are portrayed in the films having schizophrenia as mental illness displayed violent behaviour and 1/3 rd of them were reflected having homicidal attitude. Moreover, in the study 88% of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia as mental illness reported that they though public highly associate having schizophrenia means the individual is of violent nature (mentallyaware.org, 2012). However, in reality out of the 220,000 individuals living in the UK with schizophrenia as mental illness was never found to be violent or involved in any criminal or dangerous activities or behaviours (huffingtonpost.co.uk, 2017). Thus, it informs that media has contributed to creating stigma regarding schizophrenic patients to be violent and required to be socially avoided to be safe.

In the study of Myrick and Pavelko (2017), it was mentioned that media reflects individuals with mental illness instead of indicating mental illness as the problem in society. It leads the consumers of the media that is the general population to develop blame towards the individuals being responsible for having mental illness such as schizophrenia which is wrong. This is because schizophrenia is defects of the brain functioning due to morphological change caused by genetic and environmental factors (Bohlken et al. 2016). Moreover, the study mentioned that media reflects mental illness such as schizophrenia to be untreatable, informs about the positive symptoms (hallucinations, delusion, disorganised speech and others) instead of informing negative symptoms regarding the illness (lower motivation, poverty of speech and others), indicates mental illness to be suicidal and others creating a negative image for the people to be discriminated in the society (Myrick and Pavelko, 2017).

In regard to public attitude for mental illness, a survey by NatCent’s British Social Attitudes informs that 78% of people avoided feeling comfortable to marry in families with mental illness, 44% showed concern to not work with colleagues having mental illness, 55% informed they avoid being neighbours with family or individual with mental illness and 45% reported issues with socialising. Moreover, it is informed from the survey that only 10% of the people are willing to provide childcare in a family having individual with schizophrenia (bsa.natcen.ac.uk, 2015; independent.co.uk, 2016). This informs that there is presence of negative attitude regarding mental illness such as schizophrenia in the society due to which fewer people are comfortable being around people with such illness. The negative attitudes may have been caused due to reflection of schizophrenia and other mental illness as a negative health issue.

Analysing the effect of discrimination and stereotyping of mental illness

The discriminating and stereotyping attitude of the public towards mental illness has a negative impact on the social as well as psychological health of the people suffering from mental illness. As mentioned by Zäske et al. (2016), stereotyping schizophrenia individuals as violent leads them to be socially isolated. This is because people fear such individuals would cause unnecessary harm to them and as a result, they avoid socialising with them making the individuals remain in isolation. As argued by Koschorke et al. (2017), discrimination of people with mental illness makes them unable to remain aware regarding the healthcare services and interventions available for them. This is because discrimination of the mentally ill people having issues such as schizophrenia avoids coming out in public which leads the organisations taking approach to provide care and create awareness regarding the disease for such people unable to reach them. As criticised by Li et al. (2017), discrimination and stereotyping of people with mental illness make them unable to come out in public and access proper employment. This is because employers think such individuals to be incompetent to work cooperatively in turn leading such people with mental illness remain unemployed as well as face financial issues.

The Recovery Model indicates that holistic person-directed approach is to be taken to ensure recovery of individuals from mental illness (Mak et al. 2016). It informs that each person with mental illness such as schizophrenia is to be analysed and their surroundings are to be examined to understand what nature of discrimination and stereotyping they are facing based on which awareness is to be developed. This is because proper awareness regarding specific mental health illness makes the healthcare managers and organisations educate the public as well as patients regarding the wrong beliefs related to the illness which they are to be avoided to ensure proper care to recover from the condition (Avdibegović and Hasanović, 2017). In addition, according to recovery model discrimination regarding mental illness can be avoided by speaking against the stigma and developing support groups (Loh, S.Y., 2018). This is because such an initiative is going to direct the intellect and attitudes of the people to develop the right perception of mental illness making them avoid involving in stereotyping behaviour against the mentally-ill individuals,

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The above discussion informs that the biomedical model informs that mental illness such as schizophrenia are caused by brain disorder and can be managed through proper pharmacological treatment. The behavioural model informs that schizophrenia can be overcome through change in behaviour of the people and their surroundings. The recovery model informs the person-centred approach is required to resolve stigma regarding mental illness and promote recovery of individuals. The public and media attitudes regarding mental illness are found to be negative and the discrimination of the mental illness are found to make them remain unemployed, socially isolated, avoid access to proper care and others.


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