Chapter Summary

This chapter provides a history of different approaches to mental illness and, more recently, to mental well-being. You have hopefully been able to see not only the development of theory over the past 150 years, but the move away from focussing solely on individual distress to becoming more broadly concerned with the bidirectional relationship between mental health on the one hand and relationships, society, culture and environment on the other.

Simultaneously, there has been a reappraisal of the ‘reality’ and ‘normality’ of human distress, and a debate continues today as to whether distress can be assigned labels and diagnosed, or whether a more fluid formulation approach is both more valid and more valuable.