Social Representation on Mental Health Constructive by the Members of a Regional University in Ibagué, Colombia: A Mixed Methodology Approach
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Mental health is a complex concept built historically and culturally. Its definition and understanding has been associated with different flat or isolated perspectives, some merely magical-animistic, neurobiological, psychological, social, or pathological. It gives rise to the application of policies and actions in subjects, groups, populations, and communities according to the concepts of reference, without taking into account an integral perspective and cultural conditions. Thus, by understanding it as a concept isolated from its context, it generates applications that are inconsistent with the specific needs of each subject or community, and can generate counter-intuitive effects on its beneficiaries. Understanding mental health according to the voices of each context favors the construction of culturally coherent actions and policies based on the needs and potentialities of each context. This process requires alternative methodological approaches to tradition, that allow approaches that are situated, contextual, diverse in narratives, and inclusive in perspectives. This research project sought to understand the social representations of mental health constructed by the members of a university, among people in the role of general services, teachers, administrators, and students. An exploratory-descriptive study was developed, from the constructivist paradigmatic perspective, with a mixed sequential methodological design (quantitative-qualitative) and information management was supported with the constant comparative analysis of the grounded theory and the Nvivo 11 software. Quantitative instruments were used (surveys) and later on, qualitative instruments (focus groups and photographs) were used with the participation of the different roles of the university members. The results ed an understanding of mental health oriented to well-being and tranquility, an emerging process resulting from experiences located in places in the middle of nature and the city, relationships with oneself, friends, family, and animals, with whom different social practices are experienced in everyday environments.