Over the years diagnosis and treatment of problems defined as mental health issues has increased markedly. Whether looking at the dramatic increase of prescribed antidepressants or the burgeoning demand for psychological therapies it seems that we are suffering more than ever from mental illness and psychological distress.
One in four people can expect to suffer mental illness in their lifetime. One in seven of the population of Scotland is currently prescribed antidepressants and there is evidence of growing identification of problems of psychosis and childhood disorders such as ADHD.
But is everything as it seems? It has been suggested that this apparent deterioration has been driven by changing socioeconomic factors such as definitions of deprivation, reductions in the availability of social support, a declining tolerance for unhappiness, increasing dependency on professional interventions as opposed to self-reliance and pressure from drug companies to sell ever more expensive medications.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is due to be published in May. Produced by the American Psychiatric Association and often regarded as the bible of mental health diagnosis, it has been criticized for becoming ever more inclusive and pathologizing everyday distress in order to satisfy the requirements of American health insurance and the pharmacology industry.
So, is everybody going mad, or do we need to rethink how we define and respond to psychological distress?
Professor Ray Miller
Retired Clinical and Health Psychologist, having worked for over 35 years in the NHS in both England and Scotland. Main area of work has been Adult Mental Health where his career started working as a nursing assistant in Leverndale Hospital in
Glasgow in 1967, not long after the introduction of antipsychotic medication and major tranquillisers saw an end to straitjackets and padded cells.
Served for many years in the British Psychological Society in a variety of roles including President in 2006-7 and retired in 2010 from the post of Professional Advisor for Psychology to NHS Lothian.
Continues to lecture as an Honorary Professor at Heriot Watt University and to be involved in a number of public and voluntary sector projects promoting psychology.