societal mental health problems and perspectives.

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First discussion:

Hello, my name is Lauryn-Maggie Smith though I prefer to go by Lauryn. This course was a prerequisite for my major in Behavioral Healthcare. I am torn between pursuing a profession as a psychologist or a behavioral analyst. One major need related to behavioral analysis is addressing the behavior in an individual that can improve their role in the social world. Both psychology and behavior analysis are considered behavioral health professions, and that alone comes with a lot of need. Over the last few years, we have seen where the number of diagnoses has increased and there is also a deficit in professionals to treat these individuals. School will help me reach either of the career goals by preparing me socially and intellectually for the requirements of the chosen career. Also, a strong educational foundation is a requirement as well, most of the positions requiring a PhD or better for placement, so attending college is a must anyway.

           The sociological imagination is the improvable ability of an individual to connect personal experiences to the context of the world to better understand patterns in society. Focusing on the need for professionals in mental health careers, we can look at it through the sociological eye. We can identify that there is a deficit and a need to treat the increasing number of mental illnesses (in the United States) and investigate the reason why there is an increase in diagnoses in recent years. With that, we can work in our schools and at our jobs to provide more accessible resources for individuals to seek help prior to the onset of a mental illness. We can also do things to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage students to consider the field as a possible career choice. From the individualistic perspective, we can take steps ourselves to do some sort of work in the mental health field whether that be through volunteer work or taking a professional route to treat and diagnose. Here in the U.S., however, this issue is treated at a social issue because it is plagued greatly by a long-standing stigma. In this journal published to the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, the author discusses how the stigma around mental health is multi-faceted. The stigma that I was mainly referring to before, is the societal stigma where there is a framework of inferiority built that casts aside the individuals battling a mental illness. The author goes on to mention how this stigma as it unravels in society has created a system that limits the access to resources impacting the population in need.  There is a stigma within the person with the illness through a self-stigma often influenced by the societal stigma that makes them feel ‘less-than’ because of their condition (Ahmedani 2011). Looking at both of the ways these stigmas play out, we can see how and why this problem can be looked at in both the societal framework as well as through the use of the sociological imagination.

           The symbolic interactionist perspective looks at society on a small-scale and breaks us up into smaller groups and talks about the interaction of individuals at this level. These small groups are the interactions that the individuals within them are reliant upon and create an environment (in this case, society) based off these interactions. The functionalist perspective looks at society as having individuals working in harmony to allow the function and working of civilization to run smoothly. From this framework, the stigma around mental health professionals and mental health clients can be looked at as, all of us play a small role in the stigma around this field, and using that reasoning, all of us play a role in fixing it. Between both perspectives, I believe that this issue is best approached through the functionalist framework. This is because the symbolic interactionism perspective doesn’t look at the greater and structured disparities this population faces, and it also does not talk about the relationships that individuals’ interactions have on one another and how it influences the social world as a whole. The functionalist perspective includes all the working parts of the society and looks at it holistically in its function, but also at a small scale to look at how balance and harmony is obtained in the working parts (individuals). For this issue, stigma is often a societal problem, and through addressing the influence of the working individuals on one another (in this case, the stigma surrounding mental health), there can be a balance obtained.

Second dissuasion:

My name is Nicole Perez and I see myself fitting into society currently as a Latina student and as an epidemiologist in the future. Because I am a woman and a Latina, a social problem that I can face is oppression for being a minority. Attending college will help me obtain this role because it will allow me to get the education and degree I need in order to reach my goal of being an epidemiologist. The information and skills I learn in college is what will be applied in my future career as an epidemiologist. Something that I would need in order to obtain this position and manage the social problems that come with it is the use of quantitative and qualitative research. As an epidemiologist these types of research will help with calculating the pattern of the spread of different diseases. Quantitative research helps determining patterns while qualitative research helps view how social phenomena can affect these patterns. Having the sociological eye would help manage the social problems by helping me be able to identify any gender bias or discrimination based on my gender or ethnicity.

Sociological imagination is being able to link what you and others are going through  with the patterns currently happening in society. A social problem that is very common is oppression, it can treated like a personal issue if we see the discrimination as something that only we go through. If the is gender bias in the workplace, it would be a personal trouble if I were the only one going through it. This could happen if I am the only woman working in the office/lab. This can seen as a public issue by using sociological imagination and realizing that I would not be the only woman of color experiencing some type of discrimination in the workplace. According to Minimizing Workplace Gender and Racial Bias, published in the year 2000, we can see that this a public issue in the United States because there is about a 25 percent wage gap between men and women in full time jobs per week. The gap between whites and Hispanics is 32 percent. Being that there are various sources explaining research with racial and gender bias, we can prove that this is an underlying issue in the United States that is still being brought attention to. In a source publish in 2018, Time for Solutions, we see that this issue is still very much alive, “with self-employed women earning on average 30–40% less than their male counterparts”.

If we apply the symbolic interactionism perspective, which views society as continually reconstructed by individuals through a use of their shared symbols, we could see that with certain movements, we could reach a goal of ending gender or racial bias in the workplace. Since symbolic interactionism is basically the interaction between individuals, those that are experiencing the discrimination or oppression can choose to come together and talk about their shared experiences. While talking about their experiences they can also think of different solutions or how to approach the situation. With these ideas they can reconstruct society by making the change needed for other future generations. If we apply the functionalist perspective, which is that society consists of interdependent parts working together for the good of the whole, the people who are doing the discriminating may think that because they feel superior, that oppressing minorities is a just thing to do. They may think that that is the way things are supposed to be and that it makes their world a good and just place because they may think that minorities can’t be on the same level as them. One of the weaknesses of this perspective was that it neglects inequalities, which is seen in this example. Because the functionalist theory focuses on the good of the whole, people who are unequal are still included in the whole, but their issues are not. If anything, bias in the workplace may be described as a dysfunction, which is behavioral patterns with unintended consequences. I say this because the behavioral pattern can be discriminating against a group of people while the consequences is the oppression felt by the people being discriminated against, in this case, the wage gap can be used as an example. 

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