Desuto’s Mike Hostick outlines his vision for a progressive biopsychosocial mental health and wellbeing service delivered via an online platform.
In today’s world, the need for accessible and comprehensive support for mental wellbeing is more important than ever. By recognising the limitations of a dichotomous view of health and illness, we could develop an online service that embraces a continuum approach, catering to the biopsychosocial aspects of mental wellbeing. This service could provide knowledge, support, and resources, but most importantly it could facilitate real world opportunities to empower the general population and promote holistic mental health.
1. Acknowledging the Continuum:
By understanding that mental wellbeing exists on a continuum, and that movement along this continuum is fluid, we could create an online service that goes beyond the traditional binary categorization of health and illness. This service could recognize that mental wellbeing encompasses a spectrum of experiences, from optimal functioning and wellness to challenges and distress. Users could be helped across this continuum, with information, resources, guidance, opportunities, and for some, treatment, tailored to their unique needs.
2. Biopsychosocial Approach:
By embracing a biopsychosocial approach, the service would acknowledge the interplay between biological, psychological, and social factors in the realm of mental wellbeing. It could go beyond traditional online services by engaging local communities to curate a resource of real-world activities and opportunities for self-care, personal growth, and connection. Support across these interconnected domains would allow users to access valuable information pertaining to the maintenance of physical health, effective strategies for coping with psychological challenges, and fostering meaningful social connections.
3. Accessible Knowledge and Education:
The online service could serve as a hub of knowledge and education, offering evidence-based information on various aspects of mental wellbeing. It could provide accessible resources that empower individuals to understand their own mental health, recognize early warning signs, and practice preventive measures. A knowledge-sharing platform could bridge the gap between traditional medical models and the continuum approach, promoting proactive self-care.
4. Personalized Support and Guidance:
Recognizing that mental wellbeing is highly individual, the online service could offer personalized support and guidance. Users could have access to interactive tools, self-assessment questionnaires, and tailored recommendations based on their specific needs and goals. The service could foster a sense of empowerment, assisting users in identifying and utilising the resources that resonate with their unique circumstances and preferences.
5. Community and Peer Support:
A sense of community and connection is vital for mental wellbeing. Whilst online services provide peer support through forums, chat platforms, and virtual communities, they have the potential to promote and facilitate access to real-world opportunities where human connection and community participation can foster a sense of belonging and wellbeing. By undermining the current distinction between the well and the unwell, the service provider and the service user, more innovative models can evolve. Potentially, creating a matrix of human connections or even a health-economy based on altruism and reciprocity.
6. Mental Health Professionals:
Those with knowledge and expertise in mental health and wellbeing could contribute to such an economy through the provision of both free and paid offerings. Contributions might include the sharing of knowledge and expertise through content creation, guidance, resource development, connecting people and resources or by offering consultation or therapy both online and in-person where required.
The development of an online service that supports mental wellbeing through biopsychosocial means and adopts a continuum approach presents a compelling solution to the challenges we all face today. With limited financial and human resources, a growing demand for mental health support, and pressure on existing services, there is a need to address the imbalance between prioritising treatment of severe illnesses over preventive measures, inadvertently creating a situation where individuals must deteriorate further to receive help.
Such a service should not aim to replace human interaction but rather serve as a tool that facilitates human connection, engagement, altruism, reciprocity, values-based activity, knowledge sharing, and opportunity. It is likely that the knowledge, expertise, activities, and opportunities already exist in our communities. The challenge is not how to create these things from scratch but how to identify, engage and optimise them within an organising framework.