This piece has been written by James Moore and was first published by Mad in the UK on September 28, 2019 and can be accessed here.
This week on MIA Radio, we chat with Professor Peter Kinderman. Peter is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust and Clinical Advisor for Public Health England, UK. He was 2016-2017 President of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and twice chair of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology. His research activity and clinical work concentrate on serious and enduring mental health problems, as well as on how psychological science can assist public policy in health and social care. His previous books include A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing, released in 2013.
In this interview, we discuss Peter’s new book, A Manifesto for Mental Health, Why We Need a Revolution in Mental Health Care, which presents a radically new and distinctive outlook that critically examines the dominant ‘disease-model’ of mental health care.
The book highlights persuasive evidence that our mental health and wellbeing depend largely on the society in which we live, on the things happen to us, and on how we learn to make sense of and respond to those events. Peter proposes a rejection of invalid diagnostic labels, practical help rather than medication, and a recognition that distress is usually an understandable human response to life’s challenges.
- What led Peter to his interest in psychology, having initially been interested in physics and philosophy.
- How his academic and clinical work have influenced each other throughout his career.
- Why it is important to challenge mainstream mental health messages, not just as an academic exercise but also for the good of society.
- That it is pretty clear that we currently have a very poor system for responding to emotional distress.
- How we are not offering real-world help for real-world problems.
- That it is vital for us to offer people an alternative framework of understanding to allow them to decide for themselves how best to frame and therefore respond to difficulty.
- That Peter has observed changes in language that are helping to support public realisation that ‘mental illness’ is an idea or theory rather than undeniable fact.
- How a psychosocially-based mental health response might work.
- That Peter’s would like to see psychiatrists treating children to be employed by the authority also in charge of education provision.
- How our hierarchical health system gives doctors enormous power.
- That the Nordic countries have evolved a more socially-integrated and community-based approach, which better integrates health and social care.
- How those that are critical of the illness model are sometimes viewed as ‘deniers of real experiences’, but that this is a mischaracterisation because it is more about understanding those experiences in a different way or using a different framework.
James Moore has experienced the psychiatric system and psychiatric drugs firsthand following a stress-related breakdown. Believing himself to be fundamentally broken, he spent many years on psychiatric drugs before awakening to the reality that psychiatry has few answers for human difficulties. James produces and hosts the Mad in America podcast, in which he interviews experts and those with lived experience to challenge some common misconceptions about psychiatry, psychiatric drugs and the biomedical model.