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Psychiatry needs a paradigm shift (UK)

December 13, 2012

A recent paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry titled, “Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm” argues that psychiatry has been dominated by a biomedical practice that does not meet the needs of mental health care today. To become a good practice, psychiatry needs to shift from a biomedical framework to a recovery – or non-technical – framework that is dominated by relationships, the growth of service user groups, peer support, and cultural beliefs. The decades’ long domination of psycho-pharmacy, psychotherapy, and ECT treatments needs to be complemented by new evidence that demonstrates the significance of recovery-oriented services, and promotes empowerment and connectedness in mental health care.

The authors of this paper state that the balance of evidence does not favour a biomedical framework in addressing mental health problems. Instead authors state that a framework which supports the interplay of biological, psychological, social and cultural forces needs to be developed. The evidence shows that more positive treatment outcomes are achieved through recovery-oriented services than through the use of drugs, therapy, or other clinical treatments.

Greater collaboration with service user groups such as the Hearing Voices Network is also supported, as these types of groups have gained recognition by governments and organizations such as the World Health Organization. Advancement of psychiatry will only come, the authors assert, when mental health care is explored and rethinking of expertise is considered.

To read the online abstract of “Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm” in the British Journal of Psychiatry, go to the BJ Psych website.

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