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Understanding Mental Health Conditions from Biomedical and Sociological Viewpoints

Specific Mental Health Condition and Relevance to Lectures/Readings

Question A: In this module, we discussed specific mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and grief in terms of (a) how they are understood by dominant biomedical accounts identified by diagnostic psychiatry, and how they are described in the language of the DSM. We also discussed each of these conditions (b) from a range of critical and sociological perspectives which take on board power implications, and how these conditions might have sociological causes and solutions as well as biomedical ones. Critical perspectives included, but were not limited to: social constructionist, Foucauldian, anti-psychiatry, critical psychiatry, “diagnostic cultures”, “social pathologies” and other sociological approaches. In this assignment, you are asked to demonstrate your learning in this module by choosing a particular mental condition and discussing it from (a) biomedical as well as a (b) critical and sociological point of view. The goal in the essay is to compare and contrast these two perspectives, and to identify what a critical/ sociological perspective can add to a biomedical understanding of this condition. For this assignment, select a mental condition (such as depression, anxiety, addiction, grief) and to discuss this condition from biomedical and critical/ sociological points of view with specific reference to what the critical/ sociological perspective adds to your understanding of this condition. Extra points will be awarded if you choose a mental condition not discussed in the lectures and readings (such as ADHD, OCD, dementia, etc) and apply the insights of the module in an original fashion. Please submit your essay by Dec 11 at 5pm. Please use Times New Roman font 12, double- or 1.5 spaced, with page numbers and proper Harvard referencing style. The suggested structure is below: 1. Introduction: the structure and central argument of the essay. 2. The description and history of the particular medical condition you have chosen (1 short paragraph, or include in introduction) and any insights from lectures/ readings that are relevant to this condition. (ie how stigma, gender, class are relevant). 3. A biomedical point of view regarding this condition, plus an introduction to critiques of this point of view (1 paragraph). 4. A critical/ sociological perspective on this condition (1-2 paragraphs) (derived from, for example social constructionist, Foucauldian, anti-psychiatry, critical psychiatry, “diagnostic cultures”, “social pathologies” or other sociological approaches), plus critiques of this point of view when possible. 5. What does a critical/ sociological perspective add to our understanding of this condition? (1-2 paragraphs). You may want to also address some aspect of the following: what relationship between biological and social factors do you think makes the most sense with regards to this illness? How should broader social structures be changed to accommodate this understanding of mental health and illness? 6. Conclusion. Question B Though it is too early to fully assess the mental health impact of the Covid-19 crisis, preliminary studies suggest that social distancing and lockdown may have led to an increase in loneliness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, harmful alcohol, and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behavior (World Health Organization, 2020). However, sociological insights have focused on how individuals’ vulnerability to such mental health issues is strongly conditioned by factors such as gender, class, income, region and other social factors. Media theorists have illustrated how social media on one hand have been associated with a rise of anxiety; yet on the other hand, technology has enabled new forms of online working and online sociability that were quite helpful during this crisis. In this essay, discuss ONE of the mental health impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, with reference to TWO theoretical perspectives derived from sociology. In your answer, reference how the particular nature of this crisis has revived an interest in the intersections between psychology and sociology. The suggested structure is below: 1. Introduction: the structure and central argument of the essay. 2. The description and background of the particular mental health issue you have chosen. 3. A discussion of how particular social categories of people (based gender, class, income or region) may have faced particular challenges during Covid-19. 3. A discussion of how Covid-19 crisis can be examined from a particular sociological point of view. 4. A discussion of how Covid-19 crisis can be examined from another sociological point of view. 5. What could be done in the future to help people with this condition, should another wave or pandemic occur? 6. Conclusion. Remember, the purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate your learning in this module with regards to the critical/ sociological perspective discussed in lectures and readings to a specific mental health issue. It will not be sufficient to just describe dominant biomedical understandings of this particular mental health issue. To complete this assignment you will need to attend lectures and do all of the assigned readings plus some of the extra readings in order to make an informed choice. If you read required readings and come to class, and make notes as you progress through the course which readings, perspectives and topics are of particular interest to you, you will be well- prepared for this assignment. Please note that as a general rule, good essays use at the very least 5-10 ACADEMIC sources. This means academic journals only. Remember: Wikipedia does NOT qualify as a valid source. Please include required readings in your reference list.

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