Psychology central to mental health services

This morning's Guardian has an interview with Professor Dinesh Bhugra, the outgoing president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In  it he says that "widespread failures in inpatient care for mentally ill people" mean many hospital wards do not meet acceptable standards, and that people are being discharged back into society when they remain a risk to themselves and others.

Professor Bhugra blames the problem partly on a "dangerous vacuum" created because British doctors are not training as psychiatrists, while visa restrictions mean doctors from abroad can no longer fill the gap.

Responding to the interview, Professor Peter Kinderman, the chair of the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology says:

"It is clearly important to maintain - even strengthen - investment in mental health services. People can develop mental health problems for a wide variety of reasons, but we know that social and economic circumstances have an enormous impact on people's mental health. In debt, in times of uncertainly and even fear for the future, when people are unsure of their ability to provide for their children and see their careers crumble, we clearly need to support people's mental health. So it's absolutely true that we need to invest in high-quality mental health services.

"Those services should be high-quality, evidence-based and founded on humanitarian values: fairness, respect, equity and dignity. Traditional psychiatry clearly plays a part in that, but the services needed are much wider than simply a bio-medical approach.

"Our responses to stress, our thoughts, behaviours and emotions - our mental health - are largely dependent on the way we understanding the world, and that, in turn, is largely dependent on our upbringing and the experiences we've had through life. So it's important that a psychological perspective is central to any services."

Peter Kinderman will be appearing on the BBC Radio 4 programme All in the Mind this evening (21 June) to talk about the launch of a pioneering online scientific experiment to test the nation's mental health and well-being.

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