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Lay perspectives on mental health: a qualitative study

Drawert, F.A.A. (2013) Lay perspectives on mental health: a qualitative study.

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Abstract:Background: This study aimed at exploring lay perspectives on mental health. Research defined mental health as not only the absence of mental illness but also the presence of emotional, psychological and social well-being. Nevertheless, mental health services still focus mainly on mental illnesses. The inclusion of lay perspective may therefore lead to aligned mental health promotion strategies and treatments. Theory-based definitions of mental health may differ from lay perspectives. Hence, the current study investigated whether or not lay perspectives fit to the Two-Continua Model of health and illness (Keyes, 2005). This model assumes that mental health reflects both aspects of positive mental health and psychopathology. Methods: This study adopted a qualitative research approach. Eight Dutch adults between 21 and 72 years of age participated; half of them were male. A semi-structured interview was developed to assess lay perspectives on mental health. Moreover, two self-report questionnaires were assessed, which represented the participants’ level of mental illness (BSI-18) and positive mental health (MHC-SF). All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and imported into Atlas. ti, a computer-aided qualitative data analyses software. The data analysis began with bottom-up coding and proceeded to a top-down approach by linking lay perspectives on mental health to the Two-Continua Model of mental health and illness. Results: Almost all of the participants mentioned both aspects of psychopathology and positive mental health, including aspects of emotional, psychological and social well-being. These results confirm the Two-Continua Model of health and illness and underline the relevance of separating these three components. Furthermore, new topics were found regarding aspects of spiritual well-being such as belief/faith and serenity. Conclusion: The current study provided an understanding of lay perspectives on mental health. Lay people perceive holistic concepts of mental health including both aspects of psychopathology and positive mental health. This is in line with theory-based findings. Nevertheless, clinical psychology still focuses mainly on psychopathology, accompanied by the risk to neglect valuable strengths and resources in people. The findings of this study underline the importance of addressing positive aspects in addition to psychopathological phenomena when promoting or treating mental health. This is not only desirable for individuals and mental health care institution, but also our collective society.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/64063
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