Biological psychiatry and changing ideas about 'mental health prevention' in Australian psychiatry: Risk and individualism

Henderson, Julie
June 2008
Health Sociology Review;Jun2008, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p4
Academic Journal
This paper explores the relationship between the prominent aetiological frameworks for mental illness in Australian psychiatry, and ideas and strategies for preventing mental illness. Data is drawn from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry for the period 1967-2005, and textbooks used to teach the psychiatric component of the medical degree at six Australian universities since 1950. Content analysis of the journal demonstrates that social aetiological models dominated Australian psychiatry until 1985 and the rise of biological models. This represented a shift in the focus of mental health prevention from the social environment to the individual, and the re-location of psychopathology from social relationships to social and biological risk factors. A consequence of this new focus has been the re-targeting of mental health strategies toward individuals and their exposure to social and biological risk factors.


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