W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model

“I cannot be the only person to be sickened by the sight of parties of psychiatrists standing at the airport desk with so many gifts with them that they might as well have the name of the drug company tattooed across their foreheads.”

Prof. Mike Shooter, then (2005) President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Writing in his blog – “Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass” – for Psychology Today, Prof. John Read reports that “On June 10 [2021] the W.H.O. called for a fundamental change in mental health services.” The key points cited are:

  • “The United Nations Special Rapporteur called for a move away from drug-company supported biological explanations of human distress in 2019.
  • The World Health Organization recently echoed the U.N. in a report calling for fundamental changes in mental health services.
  • The report emphasized social determinants of mental health such as violence, discrimination, poverty, exclusion, isolation, and unemployment.”

His article begins:

“The thousands around the world who critique an overly biological approach to understanding and helping one another when we are very distressed are often dismissed as ‘radical’ or ‘extremists’ or ‘ideologues.’ Critics of the dominant ‘medical model’ approach, promoted by biological psychiatry and the drug companies, are often labeled and denigrated as “anti-psychiatry”. We, however, view ourselves as anti bad science and anti ineffective, unsafe treatments.

Yet even some prominent psychiatrists have spoken up against the corrupting role of drug companies and the simplistic model they have promoted in order to sell their products. In 2005, Dr. Steven Sharfstein, then President of the American Psychiatric Association, wrote:

‘If we are seen as mere pill pushers and employees of the pharmaceutical industry, our credibility as a profession is compromised. As we address these Big Pharma issues, we must examine the fact that as a profession, we have allowed the bio-psycho-social model to become the bio-bio-bio model.’

In the same year, his British counterpart, Professor Mike Shooter, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, scolded his colleagues in no uncertain terms:

‘I cannot be the only person to be sickened by the sight of parties of psychiatrists standing at the airport desk with so many gifts with them that they might as well have the name of the drug company tattooed across their foreheads’ …”

You can read more from here.

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