The holistic model
Jenna is a trainee counsellor, having studied for the last three years with the Open University and is about to undertake her next course entitled "Challenging ideas in mental health." She currently works as an online relationship adviser for TheSite.org and a chat moderator where she offers advice and support to 16 to 25 year olds who are often struggling with mental health issues and relationship problems. Jenna has also recently started contributing her advice to Bliss magazine, as well as helping out on Radio 1's The Surgery Facebook page.
Finished an essay on the holistic approach the mental distress, thought I would share some of it; let me know your thoughts....
Today the most prominent model used is the biomedical model. It relies on trained specialists submitting a diagnosis and prescribing treatment most likely to be medication or psychiatry (or both). It treats the symptoms of distress. There are many benefits to this model as it classifies symptoms and conditions and therefore with a clear diagnosis there is usually a treatment which is administrated by an expert dedicated to that condition. The diagnosis gives the illness roots of a physical form. Once the illness is diagnosed the person involved may feel relief to have an explanation and label and therefore feel less responsible for their illness.
Although this approach is measurable, is valid when it comes to training specialists and it manages to treat service users successfully what I have come to realise from my reading is that there is the danger that the whole person is not treated. The holistic approach is a model that addresses this issue and how it can be useful in explaining the experience of mental health.
The holistic model is made up of five dimensions, emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological and social. At the centre of the model is the person, the service user/survivor. All of these dimensions must be evaluated when considering both the service user’s cause and treatment of mental distress; viewing the person as a whole and not just from the perspective of one dimension or individual parts, it embraces all aspects of the person.
If we look at depression, this is multidimensional and therefore affects the whole person. It affects the body causing tiredness (physical), one’s self-esteem and confidence is reduced which is represented by the emotional and psychological dimensions. One may also not want to be around other people or trust anyone (socially). The illness is multidimensional and therefore the treatment needs to be too. So as well as looking at medication (physical) for a person who is struggling with mental distress, within the holistic model, interventions may also include talking therapy (psychological), strategies on how to build confidence and integrate back into everyday life and how to cope (emotional), the consideration of any specific beliefs or values they may have (spiritual) and also exercise and group or support work may be incorporated (social). None of these dimensions can be ignored; they all have to be considered in order to treat the person as a whole and to make sure they receive the best possible treatment.
Although the holistic model considers the whole of the person and believes all parts of the person are interconnected, some medical practitioners still believe that mental and physical illness should be treated separately and are in no way related. The unfortunate thing though is that the boundaries between disciplines and approaches are strong, there are many specialisms boxed in such as medicine, psychology, philosophy and biology so blending those areas and taking the holistic approach is challenging.
Another challenge when implementing the holistic approach could be that people have certain expectations of psychiatrists, social workers and nurses when they come into contact with a particular service so they may just want them to do their job rather than enquire or try to treat other areas of their lives. However might this not be the client’s choice, if it is explained to them that they wish to treat them in this way. However if the client does not feel comfortable with this then this is their choice and the consequence of this decision should be explained.
The implementation of the holistic model in the experience of mental distress is one that I feel is very useful. It incorporates many facets and dimensions of the person and does not treat or label them as a symptom or diagnosis. However due to the fact that this model wishes to treat the person as unique and as a whole creates challenges, as it is difficult to implement one universal model to be used uniquely on each individual person suffering with mental distress.