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Human Service

In social welfare policy, the definitions of mental health, abnormality, and mental disorder differ in one way or the other though they are related. To some extent, they also differ in the effects they have on individuals in these states. Mental health can be defined as the height of psychological well-being or the lack of mental disorders in an individual. Mental health constitutes the psychological, emotional, and social well-being of individuals. It has effects on how people feel, think and act. It also affects how people relate with others, how they think, and how they handle different situations, including stress. Mental health is essential at all stages of growth, from childhood, adolescence, up to adulthood (Zastrow, 2008).

On the other hand, mental illness refers to a situation whereby an individual has impaired capacity to function normally in life. Just like mental health, mental illness can be described through a combination of how individuals act, perceives, thinks or even how they feel. In social context, mental illness is generally associated with the functioning of some regions of the nervous system, especially the brain (Zastrow, 2008). Mental illness is an aspect of mental health and, therefore, there exists a relationship between mental health and mental illness. People with mental health concerns may develop mental illnesses if their ongoing symptoms cause stress or affect their ability to function.

Abnormality can simply be defined as a divergence from the social customs. This means that we can perceive people as abnormal if they behave differently from what is accepted as the societal norms. Abnormality is related to both mental health and mental illness in the following ways. People suffering from mental illnesses, in most cases act abnormally (Zastrow, 2008). This, therefore, shows some degree of relation between abnormality and mental illness. On the other hand, persons with sound mind, i.e. not suffering from any mental illness behave normally. They rarely act in an abnormal way.

          By observing the definitions of mental health, mental illness, and abnormality in social welfare policy, it is evident that there exist some relationships in these definitions. These definitions are not the same but are rather related.


Zastrow, C. (2008). Introduction to social work and social welfare: Empowering people. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.