AIHMS: A 'Situational Approach' To Male Health Literacy

aihms literacy 75x75 The situational approach to mental health literacy is chiefly concerned with the broad spectrum of difficult and challenging life events and human experiences across the lifespan, and how these can be responded to in the most effective way to promote quality of life for individuals, as well as enhancing their capacity to meaningfully participate in and contribute to human community.

"The situational approach to mental health literacy is chiefly concerned with the broad spectrum of difficult and challenging life events and human experiences across the lifespan..."

A situational approach to mental health literacy, centres around the idea of situational distress which encompasses a significantly challenging or troubling mixed experience of mind, thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, or behaviours, most often associated with an apparent challenging or decompensating life event, such as bereavement, a change in health status, relationship breakdown, financial, or occupational difficulties.

This distress may significantly overlap with many of the symptoms usually taken to suggest mental ‘illness’ or ‘disorder’ (such as those associated with depression and anxiety). Even when distress is sometimes inexplicable, a situational approach discourages any presumption of illness or disorder.

The situational approach to mental health literacy is chiefly concerned with the broad spectrum of difficult and challenging life events and human experiences across the lifespan, and how these can be responded to in the most effective way to promote quality of life for individuals, as well as enhancing their capacity to meaningfully participate in and contribute to human community. This approach emphasises the importance of normalising human distress and encouraging constructive, effective, and non-pathologising responses to it. This will always mean seeing human experience in the context of gender specific considerations.

Additionally, integral to this approach is an appreciation of contextual factors that potentially impinge on the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities – factors that may need to be simultaneously addressed along with individuals’ experience of distress. The situational approach emphasises the vital importance of building community capacity for taking a primary role in promotion, prevention, and early intervention for mental health and suicide prevention, with mental health and other allied health professionals complementing these efforts.

It also encourages lobbying and gaining the support of Government, corporate industry, and community leaders in addressing: needed improvement in social and mental health policy, and broader issues of contextual change to enhance mental health and wellbeing at the population level.

This approach does not downplay the importance of professional expertise in mental health, but proposes that this expertise be refocused, so that people with complex and very challenging mental health difficulties, are properly supported in environments and ways that focus on self-efficacy and recovery, without being unduly pathologised or diminished in dignity.

However, at the same time, this approach proposes the activation of new sources of capacity – both community and professional, for promotion, prevention, and early intervention for mental health, and emphasises the importance of altering the balance of preventative mental health and suicide prevention with primary and secondary prevention being given primacy.

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Graphic: Situational Suicide Factors

Normal 'stigmatising'mental health journey


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Australian Institute of Male Health Studies

PO Box 2466 
Whyalla Norrie , South Australia 5608
Australia
Telephone: +61 8 7324 1901