The biopsychosocial perspective considers the biological, psychological and social factors and how they complexly interact in understanding mental health, illness and delivery in the health care. It tries to solve problems to people who are vulnerable and at risk of getting oppression(Berzoff, 2011). Such people include homeless people, those suffering from addiction from drugs, those living in poverty and children given up to orphanages among other oppression in society. Generally, biopsychosocial helps in understanding a person’s mental status and how they react to various situations that they face in life. As a result, it tries to explain the macro and microsystems in a person, developmental stages, how oppression contributes to family health conditions, how public or self-stigma impacts individual life and risk factors associated with it among other things benefits.
Dasani’s life is affected by both macro and micro systems. In the macro systems, her family changes her life as they have to share a small house with her parents and seven siblings. In these ways, she learns to be first in everything she does. She is the first person to go to school and the first to make the honor roll(Elliott, 2013). She is also affected inwardly by the state of poverty they live in. For instance, through the hard life she undergoes, she learnt to guard her feeling in such a manner that she dispenses with anger through humour. As a result, her life is shaped in such a way to be happy despite the hard life they experience. She has a struggle in herself that makes her not to have peace in the presence of her brother and sisters, but she is incomplete without them. This shows a state of internal confusions, as she struggles to fit in the hard life the family experience.
Family level issue such as poverty has a significant impact on the child mental health status. Such problems include the family dynamics, biological and physical factors that affect developmental stages in the child(Georgiades, Boyle, & Duku, 2007). Dasani’s growth is influenced by some factors that have shaped her to respond positively to them. First, her life is affected by family dysfunction as her parents and siblings are drug addicts. As a result, she sees her future is threatened by the fact that she is homeless. Due to the drug addict, there is a possibility of the family separating which is disadvantageous to Dasani and her siblings. Through hard life, Dasani learned to be physically fit and fearless when girls prove their worth through fighting(Elliott, 2013). She also learns not to hope for things she cannot get which make her not to admire other people’s properties. Moreover, she is affected psychologically as the state of her family cannot afford to give her everything she needs in life. This also makes her not to relate well with her friends as she does not fit well among them.
Family’s health is affected by some factors such as structural oppression, cultural and environmental factors and lack of access to resources among other factors. When society oppresses a family based on their poverty level, the children are likely to develop anxiety (Georgiades et al., 2007). This can lead to dysfunction in the future health condition of the children. Such families are likely to involve in drugs to reduce the stress they undergo. For example, in Dasani’s family, the parents are a drug addict as a way to reduce family stress(Elliott, 2013). Similarly, lack of access to resources such as food and money also make the families have a negative attitude towards life which can cause mental illness in them. Dasani family also suffer because they are immigrants and do not get jobs due to their race. This comes as a result of racial discrimination that is common in the place they live in.
Stigma also has some impacts on an individual and the people around them. It exists in two forms, public stigma which is the discrimination from the people around an individual and self-stigma which is the discrimination from within(Georgiades et al., 2007). Dasani suffers both kinds of stigmas as she is discriminated from inside and outside by her classmates. In her former school, P.S 67, she rarely talks to students whose classroom had new computers(Elliott, 2013). This is because, she does not have one and as a result, she feels that she does not fit that group. On the other hand, she suffers an internal conflict as she fears her mother whom she tells the principal not to call when she was involved in a problem and at the same time fight as a way of defence. She cannot stop fighting, and if she struggles, the mother might punish her.After making a deal with the principal, she is cautious in everything she does as many teachers watch her to ensure that her behaviours are right.
Working with someone like Dasani who have been oppressed for a long time requires a more in-depth understanding of the biopsychosocial ideas. One has to understand the social factors such as poverty that might have made her think and argue the way she does. Since poverty can affect how a person feels and reacts to various situations in society, it should be one of the ideas that a person consider in dealing with Dasani. As a result, one should ensure that such biases do not get into his/her work by upholding ethics and professionalism while handling such cases. She should not feel part of the stress Dasani is undergoing but distance himself/herself to ensure that she gives the necessary assistance required. In this way, the client will help Dasani to cope up with the situation and ensure that her family status does not affect her educations and other talents she has.
Various risk factors affect Dasani and her family which includes both biological and environmental risks. Since the parents are drug addicts, Dasani and her sibling are at risk of neglect and improper medical care. As a result, they are at risk of having severe physical and emotional problems which are environmental. They are also at risk of discrimination due to minority status that their race has in the United States. Similarly, their mental health is at a chance as they might not develop normally. This is more serious due to the poverty level of the family being that the parents were jobless and a drug addict. The children live in isolation and have a negative attachment which can make them aggressive in their adulthood.
Types of resilience in Dasani’s life
As a protective factor, Dasani has an intuitive approach to learning as her intelligence is uncanny and far much above her peers. She likes writing about poems which her teacher put on the walls of the office(Elliott, 2013). This behaviour helps her to survive among the students whom their parents are wealthy (Masten, 2011). She has an obfuscation as she works hard despite her struggles amidst family poverty status. Again, she keeps quiet when other children brag about owning smartphones and going for a sleepover with their friends. Further, when other children came to learn where she lives in, she tells the truth and says that she comes from the ghetto. She learns to speak the truth as a way to avoid any form of shame. These behaviours protect her poverty image as she can go along with other children.
How to support Dasani’s strengths and signs of resilience
The best way to help Dasani strengthen her skills is to assist her in what her interest is. For example, she loves dancing and writing poems, so the teacher should ensure that she gives her the necessary resources to support her in writing poems(Zolkoski & Bullock, 2012). For instance, she should be given a chance to participate in the poem contest to improve her skills. Being that she comes from a disadvantaged family, she can do well if she is given motivations. One should assist her in acquiring personal effects such as clothes to ensure that she looks neat among other students. However, some of the evil characters like fighting other students should be discouraged to ensure that she remains discipline.
In conclusion, the biopsychosocial approach is an important aspect that helps in solving different conditions in life such as mental illness. Through it, one can learn to understand how to counter the effects that are associated with mental states. Moreover, one can determine the influences that the structural oppression, family dynamics, biological and physical factors have on people. As a result, she/he can look for ways on how to solve it to ensure that an individual is safe from any mental illness. Again, one can learn the risks associated with neglect and personal abuse and how they lead to public and self-stigma and various resilient factors to help an individual fit in the society full of discrimination.
Zolkoski, S. M., & Bullock, L. M. (2012). Resilience in children and youth: A review. Children and youth services review, 34(12), 2295-2303.
Masten, A. S. (2011). Resilience in children threatened by extreme adversity: Frameworks for research, practice, and translational synergy. Development and Psychopathology, 23(2), 493-506.
Berzoff, J. (2011). Why we need a biopsychosocial perspective with vulnerable, oppressed, and at-risk clients. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 81(2-3), 132-166.
Georgiades, K., Boyle, M. H., & Duku, E. (2007). Contextual influences on children’s mental health and school performance: The moderating effects of family immigrant status. Child development, 78(5), 1572-1591.
Elliott, A. (2013). Invisible child: Girl in the shadows: Dasani’s homeless life. New York Times.
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