All About the Different Models of Mental Health & How They Influence Treatment Protocols

biomedical-models of mental-illness

What are the Principal Models of Mental Health?

There are two prominent models of mental health within the Westernised cultures that regard mental illness as either caused by chemical imbalances within a person’s brain or other mental diseases, known as the psychiatric or bio-medical model, and the psychological model in which mental ill health is regarded as a product of a persons’s social, economic and relational life.

The Bio-medical Model

In the bio-medical model, conventional medical approaches are applied on the basis that a person suffering mental health problems is in some way ‘ill’ and requires a medical solution which is most often associated with the prescribing of some form of drug or another.

In the UK, most of the drugs that are prescribed by GPs are either anti-depressants, which are supposed to address the proposed chemical imbalances that ’cause’ depression, or they are the anti-anxiety drugs which are supposed to moderate the production of anxiety related chemicals.

The main problem with this model is that feelings of depression, or prolonged sadness, and anxiety are both completely normal human reactions to life situations which psychologists (including ourselves) argue are being pathologised (modeled as illnesses) unnecessarily.

Whilst many people do receive beneficial effects from taking psychotropic medications (drugs which effect the brain), artificially reducing normal human emotions does NOT mean that mental problems are caused by a ‘brain disease’, but only that drugs are able to reduce the intensity of emotional feelings.

Furthermore, if a depressed person’s brain shows high levels of Serotonin when using an MRI scanner (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) does this mean that these chemical imbalances are the CAUSE of depressed feelings, or are the RESULT of depressed feelings?

To date (2020) there has not been a single piece of research evidence that demonstrates chemical imbalances as the cause of mental health problems, only that they are present when people feel this way.

What this means is that feeling depressed (or persistently anxious) has a direct effect on the brains chemistry rather than the other way around!

The Psychological Model

Psychological models of mental health argue that people feel depressed or anxious as a result of the way that they percieve, process or make-sense of different life experiences which may be dependent on a wide range of factors.

One of the key factors that affects how people create meanings about any given situation, are their core beliefs and values that they have developed or learned over their lifetimes, which act as ‘filters’ through which meanings are made sense-of.

To explain what this means consider the following:

If a youngster is taught that being ‘thought-of’ (or evaluated) negatively by other people is incredibly ‘bad’ then this could lead to a range of behaviours designed to minimise the chances of being negatively evaluated such as trying to never make a mistake.

This belief would most likely lead to this person feeling very socially anxious, which, based on their core belief (that negative evaulations are bad) would be completely logical.

The questions to ask here though, are:

  • Is this person mentally ill?
  • Have they really got a ‘brain disease’?
  • Or, are they simply acting in a way that is consistent with what they believe to be true?

It seems obvious that if there is a problem here, it is not what they think or how they behave, but what they fundamentally believe to be ‘true’ that leads to those thoughts and behaviours.

If anything can truly be considered to be the ’cause’ of their social anxiety, it is clearly a ‘belief’ and this is where it makes most sense to target any change processes and not to administer a drug based on the pathologically classified ‘Social Anxiety Disorder’ found in the psychiatric literature.

Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass

Today there is an ever-growing movement drawing attention to the large-scale pathologisation (classifying as due to pathology) of human experiences and how it may be more harmful than useful in the amelioration of emotional distress.

You can read what the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today using the link below:

W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model


Our Approach

Here at Tranceform, we subscribe to the psychological model of mental health problems and do not agree with the bio-medical modelling of human distress.

It is perfectly normal to feel sad, and maybe depressed, at the loss of a close relative or loved-one.

Chemically, there is ZERO difference between a depressed mind and a grieving mind, but the medical model seems to imply that one is normal and the other is a brain disease which is clearly nonsense.

Nobody doubts the fact that these types of feelings can have a profound effect on a person’s day-to-day life, however, medical practitioners (including psychiatrists) and psychologists consider the causes of these feelings to be completely different things.

Problematic biology tends to be treated with drugs whilst experiential problems tend to be addressed using talking therapies.

Research shows that psychotherapies are at least as effective in treating these problems as drugs, and notably, psychotherapy has no negative side-effects.

Tranceformental CBT

Our Tranceformental CBT programme is an advanced form of therapy designed to exceed the effectiveness of conventional CBT through the recognition that most negative thoughts and behaviours that people exhibit are ‘coherent’ (and therefore completely logical) based on their underlying core beliefs and values.

Unlike conventional CBT, which considers ‘negative automatic thoughts’ (NATs) as errors which should be changed or substituted, our programme seeks to first understand and then change the core beliefs which ‘create’ the NAT’s in the first place.

If you don’t change the beliefs and only focus on modifying thoughts, a different set of equally negative thoughts will replace the old ones because the underlying beliefs are still the same!

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Free Initial Consultations

We offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation to discuss your mental health problems prior to commencing any counselling.

The consultation is free and lasts around 50 minutes.

During this consultation we will discuss the various types of psychological therapy that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.

Initial consultations are also available as part of our online counselling service.

At Tranceform Psychology we emphasise the importance of the therapy relationship in helping people to bring about effective change, so its important to be able to ‘meet’ to discuss our change programmes BEFORE proceeding.

Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking mental health work with us, including both the financial and personal implications.

Overcome Your Problems with our CBT Course

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is clinically proven to be effective across a range of different mental health problems.

Using our online learning platform, it is available with 2, 5 or 10 sessions of clinical support either face-to-face in the Wombourne offices, or using Zoom video facilities.

It can also be taken as a self help CBT course that will teach you the fundamental tools and techniques used throughout the mental health profession.


Buy Your CBT Course Here

You can purchase your course of CBT in our shop by clicking on any of the links below.

Self-Help CBT Course - £149

Course + 2 Clinical Sessions - £299

Course + 5 Clinical Sessions - £499

Course + 10 Clinical Sessions - £799