Caring for adults
Caring for adults

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Caring for adults

1.1 The biomedical model

The most common way to understand mental health problems is by seeing them as an illness in the same way as other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, are seen as illnesses. Policymakers encourage us to do this. Underlying the biomedical model is the belief that mental illness has a cause that can be treated and, in many cases, cured.

The biomedical model has its advantages:

  • It offers explanations of mental ill-health that many people who experience mental health problems find reassuring as it can be the first stage towards recovery.
  • Diagnosing and naming conditions can help to reassure people that what they experience is ‘real’ and shared by others.
  • Relieves symptoms such as hallucinations, a rapid heartbeat or constant worrying so that the individual starts to feel better.
  • Provides access to help and support that can help to alleviate some of the things that trouble the individual, such as not being able to go shopping.

However, the biomedical model is founded on the assumption that:

  • the cause of the mental illness lies within the individual so the focus of treatment is on bodily symptoms
  • there is a focus on what is normal so that medical judgements determine what is not normal.

The biomedical model has shortcomings that a more holistic model might explain.

A holistic model of mental health takes into account the physical, spiritual, psychological, emotional, social and environmental components of our lives. In other words, it takes into account our person and everything about our life as a whole.

CYM-CFA-E1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371