South Africa Mental Health Challenges Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1656 Words
Date:  2022-09-22


Abnormal Psychology is a psychological model study that focuses on the unusual behavior of an individual. Based on clinical classifications, the focus is on definition, classification, explanation, and provision of clinical sound treatments about different illnesses as per the understanding of abnormal behavior. With consideration of the field as a young science, the evolution has been ongoing for the past years. While the field faces different opportunities to grow, there exist challenges that require immediate attention. However, to understand the existing theories of abnormal psychology, it is mandatory to delve into the origins and the evolution of the science to the present.

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Understanding Normal and Abnormal Behavior

Many researchers deal with the problem of defining and classifying abnormal behavior. According to different scholarly findings, the paradigms in explaining mental illness get tossed from one point to another as per historical results with some holding on to spirituality, others go for biological factors while the last group advocate for psychological realms (Krueger, Tackett & MacDonald, 2016). The theoretical approaches are always changing over time hence the cultural system in existence present a challenge to the terms abnormal or normal behavior. In addition to the culture of the nation in question, the historical context and the scientific progress about the definition results in a differing opinion. On the other hand, philosophical understanding of the scientific progress caused radical paradigm shifts that led to advances in the differentiation process.


This is a type of behavior considered common among the majority of the human population. As such, it is normal for people to work and earn income. Through conforming to the surrounding social environment, they become acceptable and satisfying as per the standards of the social group (Sue et al., 2015). Furthermore, through their interaction with other people, it is easy to presume and develop a mutual understanding as a result of shared beliefs and beliefs. Their emotions do not hinder their personality adjustment regardless of frustrations and conflicts that are occasional (Barlow et al., 2017). Through adjustment to fit into the social environment, they are considered essential and integral figures on the society. The vast majority are responsible for ascribing what to consider normal or abnormal. As such, rational behavior is an illustration of the optimal development and individual functioning about the group in which the individual is rooted in. Such people are therefore of average intelligence, stable personality and adaptable to the changes and demands in the social environment.


This is an exaggeration or perverted development that moves away from what the general group deems appropriate, or rather, it is the unusual behavior by an individual. The need for other people to fit into what one considers ideal leads them to judge and make assumptions on the validity of other people's actions (Pennington, 2014). Simple maladjustments whether in thought or action lead on falling in the brackets of abnormal. Depending on the favorability of the deviation, the definitions of normal and abnormal arise (Levine, 2018). However, as discussed above, the descriptions are relative. What is considered normal by one party is deemed to be unusual by another party, hence, depending on the beliefs, spirituality and scientific understanding, everyone is either right or wrong? With the global context, moving from one region to other exposes people to diverse cultures, which often result in clashes, hence it is okay for people to realize each that it is not mandatory to judge different cultures on the same scale as that in their learning.

Historical Overview of Abnormal Behavior

As per the earlier reference, theoretical models of spirituality and biology were the center of focus. According to the Hippocrates theory, mental illness resulted from an imbalance in the body fluids (Mash & Barkley, 2014). Regardless of the flaw in the Hippocrates theory, it was a stepping stone upon which the modern-day medical thinking sprouts from. Through his approach, other physicians of his time got influenced thus moving away from spirituality and instead, focus on medical observations in the diagnosis of mental illness. The progress of science also progressed the biological theories. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had most people considering mental illness as a result of demonic possession. As such, during that time, treatment for the mentally sick included torture with the aim of driving out the demons (Banich, 2014). Regardless of the torture, the individuals received no cure; rather, they ended up in exile.

However, the views started changing in the eighteenth century where abnormal behavior became an illness instead of demonic influence. During the time, the torture environments were taken over by asylums that emphasized medical treatment forms. The early twentieth century witnessed the emergence of comedogenic and psychological theories (Saveanu, 2014). According to somatogenic theory, abnormal behavior hinged directly on mental condition, on the other hand, the psychogenic theory emphasized that psychological factors caused the strange behavior. The modern definitions of abnormal behavior directly related to the logical evolutions over the years. As argued above, through the gradual development process, society moved from a spiritual view before embarking on a biological factor before finalizing with the psychological systems. However, with gaps existing in the research, there is room for more development.

Role of Culture in Defining Normal and Abnormal Behavior

No one is an island, preferably, as part of the society, different requirements exist. An organization has unwritten rules and guidelines that govern the interactions with each other, a fit that guarantees predictability and orderliness. Furthermore, everyone in society has roles they are bound to fulfill. Violation of such norms or roles causes discomfort to the broader community. This defines the general understanding of culture. Violation of rules is only possible if the rules exist governing a given group. On the hand, abnormal and abnormal behavior hinges upon conformity and non-conformity. Those who conform to the cultural systems of the society pass on as ordinary individuals, however, those failing to adapt to the ways of society get considered as abnormal people, shunned, as they only serve to destabilize the nation (Duru, 2015). Different incidences that lead to culture determining the actions and progress of other people exist, for example, cultural adaptation.

Cultural Adaptation

Acculturation is a process in which new cultures from different regions gradually adapt to the introduced culture. As per the public reactions, the model requires involved individuals to behave like others in the new environment (Sasaki, 2016). For example, South Africa, as well as most citizens from African nations, jokingly holds onto the fit, "in Africa, everything moves at a slow pace". Foreigners and business individuals wish to keep time, however, to South Africans, everything will occur in due time. For Europeans, time is money, while to South Africans, time is leisure, depending on who is instigating a meeting, they will have to adapt to the notion of time, forsaking their belief for the culture of those they intend to meet.

State of Mental Health in South Africa

Recent years show efforts by South Africa in trying to strengthening their nation's mental health systems. The efforts started by reforming the health legislation with the introduction of policies that advocate for improved methods. However, despite the developments and progress, the nation is still lacking in its effort especially concerning the implementation process. Some of the significant challenges witnessed in the government include; the nation requires an official endorsed the policy to handle issues concerning mental health. As a result, mental health is not prioritized, and there is no integration of primary health care to psychiatric health care. Without the policy to enforce regulations and guidelines, chances of re-hospitalization are higher instead of focusing on deinstitutionalization (Yearwood & Hines-Martin, 2016). The government is responsible for the welfare of the nation's citizens, however, without a proper policy implementation process, nothing much will become a reality; instead, they will remain as plans. As per the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), the reports in this year asserting that the majority of the individuals in the nation are suffering from anxiety, depression or abuse of substances.

South Africa is a developed nation in Africa; the mental illness case is a fit that needs dealing with. Considering a significant task falls upon health providers to provide teachings to the masses, the government ought to work together with them to ensure the effort becomes a reality. The biggest challenge, as shown above, is the failure of the government to coordinate and cooperate with medical practitioners to provide the society is safe. Therefore, without a good policy in place that regulates and guides the operations of the medical practitioners, South Africa will have to deal with an increasing crisis of mental illnesses. Additionally, the nation should have in place a competent implementation team that has all the equipment and finances to effect change in the mental health sector.


Banich, M. T. (2014). Explaining abnormal behavior: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Guilford Press.

Barlow, D.H., Durand, V.M., du Plessis, L.M., & Visser, C. (2017). Abnormal Psychology: An integrative approach (SA ed).UK: Cengage Learning.

Duru, C. K. (2015). Antisocial Personality and Aggressive Behavior Intention Among Secondary School Children in Malaysia. University Putra Malaysia.

Krueger, R. F., Tackett, J. L., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Toward validation of a structural approach to conceptualizing psychopathology: A special section of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(8), 1023.

Levine, A. (2018). Book Review: Not so abnormal psychology: A pragmatic view of mental illness. Journal of Disability Studies, 4(1), 30-31.

Mash, E. J., & Barkley, R. A. (Eds.). (2014). Child psychopathology. Guilford Publications.

Pennington, B. F. (2014). Explaining abnormal behavior: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Guilford Publications.

Sasaki, M. (2016). A Comparative analysis of trust among megacities: The case of Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (ISDPR).

Saveanu, R. V. (2014). Systematic Psychiatric Evaluation: A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying the Perspectives of Psychiatry.

Sue, D., Sue, D. W., Sue, S., & Sue, D. M. (2015). Understanding abnormal behavior. Cengage Learning.

Yearwood, E., & Hines-Martin, V. (Eds.). (2016). Routledge Handbook of Global Mental Health Nursing: Evidence, Practice, and Empowerment. Taylor & Francis.

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South Africa Mental Health Challenges Paper Example. (2022, Sep 22). Retrieved from

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