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New framework for mental ill health launched

On Friday 12 January 2018, Dr John Cromby from the School of Business spoke at the conference which officially launched a new framework of mental ill health.

‘The Power Threat Meaning Framework’ was developed by a group of senior psychologists and high profile service user campaigners for the British Psychological Society. It is intended as an alternative to more traditional ideas of mental ill health based on psychiatric diagnosis.

The Framework summarises and integrates evidence about the role of various kinds of power in people’s lives, the kinds of threat that the misuse of power pose, and the ways that people have learnt to respond to those threats.

From a diagnostic perspective, these responses are called symptoms. The Framework sees them as meaningful, if unusual or self-defeating, attempts to cope, survive or thrive. Because it includes the influence of culture, the Framework shows how messages from wider society can increase feelings of shame, self-blame, isolation, fear and guilt.

The Power Threat Meaning Framework is not intended to replace all the ways we currently think about and work with distress. Instead, the aim is to support and strengthen the many examples of good practice which already exist, while also suggesting new ways forward.

The Framework has wider implications than therapeutic or clinical psychological work. It offers constructive alternatives for mental health service design and commissioning, professional training, research, service user involvement, and public information. There are also important implications for social work and social policy.

Dr Cromby said: “The Framework offers a genuine and coherent alternative to people experiencing distress and those who work with them. I’m pleased to have been part of the great team that produced it, and excited that it’s now available to others. Using the Framework, I’m hopeful that we’ll soon stop asking people ‘what is wrong with you?’ and instead ask ‘what has happened to you?'"

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