'Identity Crisis' Faces Mental Health Services, Say Experts; Psychiatrists Claim That in Treatment of Common Cases the Medical Element Has Been Downgraded
Byline: Madeleine Brindley Health Editor
LEADING experts have suggested that mental health services for patients could be compromised because psychiatric input has been "downgraded".
More than 30 eminent psychiatrists from across the UK have spoken of the "identity crisis" faced by the profession.
Speaking as the discipline celebrates its 200th anniversary, the group said that the psychiatric element of treatment must have parity with psychosocial approaches to treating common mental health problems.
In an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry they said that the welcome improvements in psychosocial care have had the unintended consequence of undermining medical approaches towards diagnosis and treatment.
They said: "This creeping devaluation of medicine disadvantages patients and is very damaging to both the standing and the understanding of psychiatry in the minds of the public, fellow professionals and the medical students who will be responsible for the specialty's future."
And leading psychiatrist Professor Nick Craddock, who is based at Cardiff University, said attempts to destigmatise mental illness in Wales, by rebranding it under the banner of wellbeing could further stigmatise and even discriminate against patients with serious psychiatric problems.
He said: "I don't want to decry psychosocial interventions but as well as offering this, it is imperative that we deliver the medical element of psychiatry.
"We are arguing for a balance because it is recognised that a substantial number of people with mental illnesses re quire high-quality psychiatric interventions."
The term psychiatry was first coined 200 years ago by German physician Prof Johann Christian Reil.
In the two centuries since, approaches towards treating mental health have evolved considerably, especially as there has been a greater acknowledgement of the psychosocial factors involved in mental illness.
While these advances have been largely welcomed, there is a fear that the traditional psychiatric or medical approach to mental health, which involves assessing and treating the whole person, is being sidelined. …