Illness Mind Body and Social Connections Essay

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Illness Mind Body and Social Connections Essay

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The mind-body connection is a concept that highlights the intricate relationship between an individual’s physical health with their emotions and psychological state. As medicine begins to understand and accept “the mind-body connection,” there has been a greater integration of biomedicine, mental health services, and alternative or complementary therapies.

Illness can lead to emotional instability and temporary/permanent physical disability. Patients might also experience reduced levels of independence and/or modifications of their roles in family and society. These changes may also have significant effects on family members and caregivers’ lifestyles and quality of life, and they can also be quite traumatic for both the patient and their family. Chronic exposure to stressors such as medical treatments, side effects, complications, or hospital admissions can deplete the internal and external coping resources of a patient and their family system. These chronic exposures also known as trauma can manifest in a myriad of different symptoms that often go unrecognized and therefore are left untreated.

Social workers intervene with patients who have experienced trauma in a variety of medical arenas such as Veteran’s Administration Health Services, Emergency Departments, Specialty Health Clinics, Substance Abuse Services, OB-GYN clinics, pediatric care, and Women’s Centers. Whether or not you are directly treating a traumatic episode as the presenting problem, trauma will be present in the medical clinical space. Through ongoing assessment, Medical Social Workers consider how and if this impact might change with the progression of the illness.

The experience of illness can reach beyond the patient and impact the family system considerably. Patients experience illness through the lenses of their personal emotions, past experiences, stage of life, familial role, social relationships, responsibilities, stressors, and cultural and spiritual beliefs. Other factors, including the nature of the illness and comorbid conditions, also influence how the patient perceives illness. Together, these factors impact how and whether patients seek care, utilize health resources, and receive and adhere to treatment—all of which eventually impact the outcome of the illness.

This week’s resources cite multiple studies that explain the complex and multi-directional connection between physical illness, mental illness, trauma, and social support. The social environment can also impact health. Given the connection between physical illness, mental illness, and the social environment, it is common to find health care teams that include physicians, mental health professionals, and Medical Social Workers. The combination of these professionals provides patients with well-rounded care that emphasizes the whole person. Effective medical social work practice consists of collaborating, consulting, developing care plans, and training others to address the needs of the patient.

To prepare for this discussion: You will combine what you have learned about mind-body interactions and demonstrate your ability to communicate this knowledge to others in a professional manner.

1) Post your response to the following:

a) Provide a description of two psychological/emotional responses to illness experienced by patients and how these can influence health outcomes.

b) Explain how dealing with the effects of chronic illness can be traumatic for the patient/family and how this can complicate symptoms of health and mental health.

c) Provide an explanation of two social factors and how they can influence health.

d) Discuss how complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) can be helpful when working with clients with chronic health or mental health conditions.

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