Mainstream mental health services are a disaster

“They are a ‘busted flush’, long past their sell-by date, says consultant psychiatrist, Dr Sami Timimi.”

In an article on the uncancelled website, Sami Timimi writes:

Hardly a week goes by without another headline about the epidemic of mental health problems coming our way…

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has joined the ranks of celebrities popularising the idea that we are sinking in a sea of mental ill health saying she has “low-grade depression”. A recent report from the Office for National Statistics claimed twice as many adults in Britain are reporting ‘symptoms of depression’ now compared with this time last year.

The real problem is not a mental ill health epidemic, but the mindset where the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘understandable’ become symptoms and sickness. Of course there are more people who are unhappy, insecure, and stressed. We have been in enforced isolation, many are losing their livelihood, and uncertainty about the future is ubiquitous. Are human responses to adversity ‘depression’?

What sort of ‘thing’ is a mental disorder like ‘depression’ anyway? When does a behaviour or experience become abnormal, disordered, or pathological? Who decides? Based on what?  

When somebody has an accident and experiences extreme pain and swelling in their leg, and an X-ray reveals there is a fracture in the tibia (shin bone), we know what sort of ‘thing’ we’re dealing with. The diagnosis of a fracture explains the symptoms. There is an abnormality that can be scientifically verified and so exists out there in the world beyond our subjectivity – ie) the opinion of one person.

In mental health, the territory for what we refer to as ‘symptoms’ of a mental disorder are experiences and behaviours. Each of these are interpreted differently by different cultures, times, and settings. We have no tests, no physical comparisons, and so are entirely reliant on observations and reports of that person and/or their significant other(s). This means we are no longer dealing with a thing that can be ‘diagnosed’ …”

You can read more from here.

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