The Biopsychosocial Model: Why Should You Use It?

During my undergraduate degree, I was captivated by the Bio-Psycho-Social model. The idea of this approach towards health is to look at a patient or client holistically, considering biological issues, psychological worries, and social environments equally. Although it seems like an automatic and obvious viewpoint towards health, the interconnection of the three are very rarely considered. Intrigued? Then follow on for The Biopsychosocial Model: Why Should You Use It?

In 1977 Engel challenged the previous tradition of only using the ‘biomedical’ approach (where only biological issues were reviewed). He thought this was reductionist as it did not consider the various factors that affect people’s mental health. He acknowledged the influence of upbringing, trauma, social relationships, environment, coping mechanisms and biological problems. Leading to the creation of the new model.

  • Biological – The chemistry of the brain, genetic elements, and brain damage
  • Psychological – Internalised thoughts, coping strategies, subjective perspective, mental wellbeing
  • Social – relationships, environment you live in, access to needs, childhood environment

Our lives are fluid and lots of things intersect, meaning the model is adaptable e.g. incorporating exercise into your daily routine may improve your mental wellbeing and improve your fitness.

This holistic approach is not just for professionals to implement, we can all use it in our daily lives.

Having a Bad Day?

Imagine you’ve been called into ‘the office’ and when you arrive at work, are told you need to redo an element of your work that you had spent ages on and it has to be completed by the end of the day. You leave the office frazzled, head back to your desk and you knock tea all over your keyboard. You feel like you want to cry, and you cannot hide your emotions.

The Web of Stress

Your colleague is wondering why spilling tea on your keyboard has brought on such an extreme reaction. However, it is not the replaceable keyboard that you are upset about, it’s the overwhelming workload you now have, the worry that you won’t be able to improve your work and the looming deadline that means you can’t keep up with the rest of your scheduled work.

Mental Health Involves Several Variables

I use this example to emphasise how things add up and how often what tips us over the edge is not the actual issue in front of us that we are upset about. This highlights how our mental health is made up of intersecting and interrelated factors, how we all experience ups and downs in our lives and mental wellness (or unwellness), should not be stigmatised. We all have complicated, interdependent lives made up of various factors.

Your Personal Perspective is Everything & Consciousness is Infinite

This model discussed above has taught me that if I am ever feeling blue, it is very rarely one thing that is causing this. It has enabled me to reflect and have a better, healthier perspective on my current circumstances, mental wellbeing, and physical health. The biopsychosocial model is adaptable, acknowledges contemporary problems and is adaptable to all situations. I feel it is a brilliant, holistic approach that we should all adopt in our daily lives. If you consider the limit of what you think your ability is, it’s always much more! That’s why you should always have a high-minded model of who you think you are – your problems will be seen as small, because in the larger scheme of things, they are just that…small.)

What do you think of the biopsychosocial model? How do you manage your multi-dimensional needs and lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter Instagram!


Delphis (2019) ‘The Biopsychosocial model of mental health(Accessed 17/09/2020)

Engel, L. G. (1977) ‘The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge in Biomedicine’ (Accessed 20/09/2020)

Sarah Lashley

Sarah is a recent Combined STEM graduate from The Open University. She majored in Biology and Psychology and is very passionate about the Biopsychosocial approach to health, believing a holistic view is most important. She will soon be embarking on a Master’s Degree in Health sciences. In her spare time, she loves to travel and experience different cultures, from working at Disney World to adventuring on a solo round the world trip. She enjoys keeping fit and setting herself fitness challenges to raise money for charity.

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