Mental Health in Diverse Populations

Mental health and mental health disorders are discernable patterns which exist in the context of an individual child with a unique history in a unique family, community, demographic, social, natural and political environment.  The intersection of clinical patterns with individual experience is a major aspect of the art of medicine.  

There are several theoretical models which help us formulate the impact of elements outside the exam room on the patients we assess and treat.  The biopsychosocial model proposed by George Engel in 1977 is among the most commonly used.  

Extensions of the biopsychosocial model include the identification of modifiable and non-modifiable elements of the systems that influence wellness, illness, and the provision of care.  

The following sections address elements of lived experience at the personal and social level that shape mental health and mental illness in diverse populations.