Whilst doing some research this weekend, I came across two interesting opinions on why the prevalence of ADD/ADHD is so high in some countries and not in others, and whether it is as a result of poor parenting and changes in our social demands or a reflection of society’s medicalization of a more social problem.
The British Psychological Society issued a position statement calling for a modification on how the medical profession and the community at large view mental health concerns. The British Psychological Society is arguing for a shift from a medical model of viewing mental health (where mental health is defined according to strict medical criteria – DSM V, and supported by pharmacological intervention), to a more embracing paradigm that includes an assessment of the intricate combination of psychological, social, and socio economic factors that influence mental health.
In this way, mental health and in particular, ADD and ADHD can be diagnosed under the umbrella of multi-factorial approach that not only takes into account the biological- neurological basis of these two mental health concerns but also the contextual elements to that diagnosis. In this two pronged approach, underlying issues that contribute to a child’s behavior are addressed; so an assessment of the child’s brain (biological – neurological basis of the disease), as well as the child’s social context.
Hopefully, in this way, much of children’s normal behavior and symptomatology will be less pathologized and there will be less reliance on pharmacological interventions. In a more holistic and psycho-social approach, the child and his/her environment will be addressed. For example, the dietary intake of children would be assessed to ascertain the influence of colourants and preservatives on a child’s behavior.
In conclusion, a message to all those parents out there: ADHD/ADD is not a result of bad parenting. Possibly, the prevalence of these two diseases is more about a change in society where the emphasis in schooling is to prepare children for a future which dictates long office hours, sitting on a chair in front of a computer with less opportunity for activity and movement and greater emphasis on wireless productivity.