Image credit: Kevin Dooley
Social structural theories of abnormality focus on how societal rules and forces put pressure on individuals to conform and constrain their behaviour. This pressure can cause anxiety in a person and result in them repressing their true selves, which can lead to various mental disorders. One aspect of this theory is that societal reorganization, such as when there is an economic recession and peoples' lives change due to increased unemployment, is likely to cause an increase in prevalence of mental disorders.
Another aspect of social structural theory is based around social class and living conditions. For instance, those living in poverty are more likely to have mental disorders, and populations such as Aboriginal people face great stress in regards to poverty, cultural issues and restrictions, and land claim battles, and often have higher prevalence of mental disorders as compared to the general population. In situations like these and in other situations where there is a lot of conflict and lack of community and cohesion, people may turn to violence, drugs, or isolation as a form of avoidance.
If individuals have certain behaviours or thoughts that go against societal norms and laws, they may also experience abnormality according to social structural theory because they will have to deal with feeling out of place and constrained in the need to repress those aspects of themselves.
Through all of these concepts, this theory places emphasis on society's responsibility in the development of mental illnesses in the population. The social structural theory is also highly related to issues in criminology.