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Exploring Mental Health:
A Working Group

"Models of Mental Health: A Critique and Prospectus"

Participants: Katjia Belova (BMC student), Laura Cyckowski (BMC student), Paul Grobstein (BMC Biology), Ji-Hyang Kim (BMC student), Susan Levine (Psychologist), Jenny Lum (BMC student), Judie McCoyd (Social Work Faculty & Clinician), Katharine Penzo (BMC student), Lea Rifkin (BMC student), Amy Rives (BMC student), Corinne Shriver (BMC student), Linda Slattery (Counselor), Laura Socol (BMC student), Earl Thomas (BMC faculty), Elna Yadin (BMC, UPenn Faculty/Psychologist)

There were fifteen participants in the introductory meeting of the group, including faculty members from Bryn Mawr and elsewhere in biology, psychology, and social work, practitioners of several kinds including psychoanalysts and therapists, and students with a variety of backgrounds and interests. Additional people expressed interest but were unable to attend the first meeting. They have been included in a listserv for subsequent meeting announcements.

Following introductions, discussion turned to the objectives of the working group. It was generally agreed that there was a lack of coherence in mental health care provisions in the United States that made it difficult for individuals seeking care to negotiate the system effectively, and that this was attributable at least in part to a variety of different professional groups involved in mental health care who do not communicate significantly with each other. The vision of an integrated mental health care community that could more effectively match people seeking care with the variety of different professional approaches was agreed upon as one long term motivation of the working group.

The current lack of coherence in thinking about mental health reflects not only practical issues but conceptual ones as well. Discussion turned next to these and to the suggestion that an integrated mental health system ought to take as its common concern "the continual enhancement of the ability of individuals to shape their own futures, to be causal and creative agents in their own lives, and to make distinctive and useful contributions to the lives of others."

There were a variety of comments on this suggestion. Do we know enough about how the brain works to implement it effectively? How does it speak to a variety of kinds of immediate/practical problems for which people seek assistance? What implications does it have for current conceptions of "expertise", "authority", and professional "responsibility"? Is it too culturally specific in its concern for individuals as causal creative agents? What about the effective function of groups and communities?

To begin exploring these questions, the group agreed to read for the next meeting two articles

The next meeting, originally scheduled for 22 October, has been rescheduled for 29 October in Campus Center 200. In addition to discussion of the two readings, that meeting will include planning of subsequent readings and discussion topics.

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:19 CDT