Interrogations of psychology and its relevance in the process of mental health are commonin modern society. The social representations built by people around questions such as:
“who are psychologists?”; “what does a psychologist do?” and “w
hy people consult
psychologists” are crucial in order to reac
h a holistic understanding regarding conceptionsabout psychologists. The answers to these questions can lead to a greater understanding of psychology in society, and facilitate the development of frontline services to create realisticand coherent social policies that increase
quality of life, wellbeing and mentalhealth within the community. The constructions of social representations of psychologistsdo not exist exclusively in the mind of the individual. These perceptions permeate people
sinteractions and behavioural psychology within the community. This happens through
people’s verbalizations that come from what they listen, read or hear from the mass media,
from their life experiences and their relationships. Also, it is important to consider thatdifferent economic and social contexts create specific demographics within the applicationof psychology within the greater community.
This study aims to investigate how individuals from a low socio-economic background in theGreater London are
a define ‘the psychologist’, and how this profession is conceived outside
a clinical context. It will assess the meanings that people with no prior experience of visitingpsychologists assign to this specialist. The Social Representations Theory (SRT) is used asepistemological framework with which the data is analysed. According to Tilford et al.(1997) mental health is one of the most important causes of illness in the UK, thereforebetter and more integrative comprehension of social representations of psychologists andtheir work could represent a valuable step in the mental health promotion and also a crucialinformation for clinicians regarding the ideas, preconceptions and fears that people havearound them.
Mental health is a main cause of disability, illness, social and family disfunctions in the UK;some of the more common problems presented are: suicide (especially amongst youngmen); depession and anxiety. In general, both anxiety and depression (clasify into thecommon mental disorders: CMDs) in low socio-economic communities is often left