HLTHAGE 2G03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Bad Tendency, Depth Perception, Post-Structuralism

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Lecture 8: Mental Health Across the Lifespan
Introduction
● Think about mental health and illness outside of conventional adult populations
● Children and seniors
● We’ve devised norms of behaviour primarily based around behaviour expected for
middle-aged adults
● There are some specific differences when it comes to criteria for childhood (less so for
old age), but tricky - these are periods of immense change
● If you think about childhood and late adulthood there’s a lot going on
○ Changes in independence, how you relate to other people
○ How do we think about mental health against the backdrop of so much change
● Some unique features about child and older adult mental health, e.g. emphasis on 3rd
party reporting
○ Parent or adult-child will often report the problems instead
○ Because of the subjective nature of reporting, and lack of validity, you’re
introducing an entirely new person into the equation
○ No longer about self-reporting but about another person’s perception
○ Often hard to understand someone else completely
Emergence of Childhood mental health
● In 19th century childhood “invented” as a period of leisure and play
● New interest in “proper” development of the child
● We understand typical stages of development
○ By x age a child should be able to do y
○ These are grounded in particular contemporary ideas
○ Psy disciplines tend to come from western perspectives
● Emergence of psy-ences helped transform “bad kids” into “problem children”
○ Problem child is different than a bad child
○ The bad child is immoral, but the problem child has no control over themselves -
inherent mental health issues
● Growth of psychoanalysis promoted increased interest in children and relationship to
family
○ Analysis recognizes that childhood and early relationships profoundly affect
people for the rest of their lives
○ Lots of emphasis on the family
● 1950s cult of the “ideal family” - the “broken home” as threat to children and society
○ Refrigerator mothers, divorcees, widowers cited as incubators of poor mental
health
○ Psychologists had described a healthy family environment
○ Would blame poor behaviour on misbehaviour of men and women in their lives
○ Sexism was replicated
● Mental hygiene movement promoted prevention - school as surveillance site
○ 1960s: move to identify “pre-delinquent” children - those that had minor
behavioural issues that might be amplified later
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○ “Early intervention” as a strategy
○ School nurses, or guidance counselors become involved
○ Identifying kids that could be much worse without intervention
○ Idea that you have to get in there early is really important - emphasis on quick
response, get em’ young
○ Increasing use of school staff with responsibility to identify deviant children in
need of intervention
○ Distinction between healthy and unhealthy children hardened - moving from a
spectrum to a binary of normal/abnormal
○ New diagnoses emerge to capture these “disturbed children”
Case Study: Conduct Disorder
● “A repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of other or
major appropriate societal norms or rules are violated”
● Tied to setting, recognizes that there is a norm
● Signs: excessive levels of fighting, bullying cruelty to people or animals, destroying
property, fire setting, lying, running away, tantrums, pranks, being sexually active at a
young age, disobedience
● These things are not applied evenly
○ E.x. inappropriate sexual activity is judged in a very gendered way
○ Also kids lie all the time - it’s pretty normal
● These are just broad enough that any slightly problematic childhood behaviour are
pulled in
● Linked to inconsistent parenting, parental mental health, poverty, low educational
achievement
○ In impoverished situations some of these behaviours make sense
○ If you have bad parents maybe disobedience is a natural consequence
○ But we frame this as a problem of the child - and it gets diagnosed
● Other speculated causes linked to genetics and other biological features
● Study in the US showed that this applied to 2-16% of the US pediatric population
○ If 16% of kids fit features for a mental disorder
○ Is this because of the kids? Or does this speak to our ideas of what kids ought to
be like
Explosion of childhood mental disorder
● Since mid 90s
○ Rates of ADHD have tripled
○ Autism diagnoses up by 2000%
○ Childhood bipolar disorder rates increased by 4000%
● So either a lot more children are having these problems, or we’re diagnosing a lot more
kids
● Childhood mental health redefined as absolutely critical period for intervention, why?
○ Biological explanations: neural plasticity, connections being forged in the brain
○ Psychological explanations: learned behaviours, patterns, self-concept formed
○ Social explanations: learn relationships with others, connected to community
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Document Summary

Think about mental health and illness outside of conventional adult populations. We"ve devised norms of behaviour primarily based around behaviour expected for middle-aged adults. There are some specific differences when it comes to criteria for childhood (less so for old age), but tricky - these are periods of immense change. If you think about childhood and late adulthood there"s a lot going on. Changes in independence, how you relate to other people. How do we think about mental health against the backdrop of so much change. Some unique features about child and older adult mental health, e. g. emphasis on 3rd party reporting. Parent or adult-child will often report the problems instead. Because of the subjective nature of reporting, and lack of validity, you"re introducing an entirely new person into the equation. No longer about self-reporting but about another person"s perception. In 19th century childhood invented as a period of leisure and play. New interest in proper development of the child.

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