Handout D

Biopsychosocial Model

Three factors are important to examine in understanding mental illness:
      BIO = biology
      SOCIAL = sociology
      PSYCH =


Causal Factors
  • Biology (genes, chemicals, structure) - are inherited at birth
  • Psychology (personality, beliefs, behaviors, life experiences)
  • Sociology (stress from environment, cultural issues such discrimination, racism, etc.)
  • Biology
    • Taking medication as prescribed
    • Eating a healthy diet
    • Maintaining good physical health and regular exercise
  • Psychology
    • Participating in psychotherapy or other classes
    • Learning good coping skills
    • Learning about mental illness
  • Sociology
    • Combating stigma
    • Minimizing stress from environment

    Diathesis (Vulnerability) - Stress Model

    Individuals can inherit a genetic predisposition ("diathesis") to mental illness, given a family history of some disorder(s).

    Then life experiences ("stress") can trigger the onset of a mental illness. Individuals with a predisposition for mental illness can have a harder time with major life events, and some symptoms of mental illness may emerge.

  • Handout adapted from Educating Patients and Families about Mental Illness, Copyright 1991, 1995, Cynthia Carson Bisbee, Ph.D. Used by permission. To order manual, call Partnership for Recovery 1-888-IDEALTX

    Support And Family Education:
    Mental Health Facts for Families
    Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D.