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The social construction of mental illness in contrast to medical models

Melvin Bradley (MhIST (Mental Health Independent Support Team), Bolton, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 2 August 2022

Issue publication date: 11 July 2023




The purpose of this paper is to discuss a social constructionist point of view about mental health in contrast to the medical model.


This is a discussion paper bringing together two systems of thought concerning mental health and its origins.


It is not clear that there is any substantive evidence to support the medical model of mental illness.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers may be helped to consider a qualitative approach to knowledge rather than the traditional positivist approach.

Practical implications

This paper will help people to think about mental health in a way that is not orthodox.

Social implications

It will bring an understanding that even though mental illness is not an illness in the traditional sense, there is still no blame or shame associated with it.


The author is an active operational senior manager at a user-led community mental health organisation with over 20 years’ experience in the field. The organisation and its services track a social constructionist philosophy.



Bradley, M. (2023), "The social construction of mental illness in contrast to medical models", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 250-258.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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