PS 340 - Italian and American Approaches to Mental Health: Comparative Study of Bio-Psycho-Social Model

The course will analyze the interaction of biological, psychological and social determinants of the individual’s mental functioning and behavior and different approaches to mental healthcare; emphasis being placed on both the theoretical and practical aspects. The bio-psycho-social- cultural model to diagnosis and care and its theoretical and therapeutic implications will be brought into discussion, taking into account the scientific world’s most current perspective. We will also undertake a close study of the Italian and American approaches, drawing comparisons and highlighting the difference in methods and outlook between them.

The course is divided into different areas, firstly covering notions of clinical Psychology with a comparative analysis of the different psychological and biological models in Europe and in the US, rehabilitation approaches to mental illnesses and also correlation factors between severe mental disorders and criminal offence.

The course will also focus on the changes that have come about in this field in different countries in the last 50 years; they represent the result of a crisis and upheaval in the area of mental health in the western world and the way it was addressed. The resulting reforms (e.g. the introduction of the Basaglia community centers in ’62 in Italy etc.) and the introduction of new drugs marked the beginning of the deinstitutionalization process and the establishment of psycho-social services in each territory with more direct contact with the community. Italy has been one of the countries in the forefront of these changes with a unique formula for its mental health reforms, which have been studied as a field leader.

Analysis will be undertaken of mental health issues and their social implications such as crime, risk and protective factors in criminal behavior and treatment of offenders within the penitentiary and psychiatric systems. During the course, emphasis will be placed on the practical aspect with the participation of guest speakers, discussion of clinical cases, field studies involving student visits of both private and public institutions, research and/or rehabilitation centers where this model is being represented.

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