Society quoted in Westminster debate

The Society’s response to a consultation on the proposed fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Society’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5) was quoted at Westminster yesterday.

Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, had obtained a Westminster Hall debate on the prescription of Ritalin for children diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mr McFadden said he supported the Association of Educational Psychologists’ call for a re view of the prescription of Ritalin and similar medication to children (as the Society itself has done) because of the growth in the number of prescriptions, the evidence that they are being given to very young children, the wide regional variations in their use, and the lack of evidence about the long-term effects of combining these drugs with others.

He also called on the Department of Health to carry out a proper research project into the use of the drugs, including the age of the children receiving them.

In making these calls he quoted the Society’s response to the consultation on DSM5:

"The Society is concerned that clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which undoubtedly have distressing consequences which demand helping responses, but which do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation.

"Diagnostic systems such as these therefore fall short of the criteria for legitimate medical diagnoses. They certainly identify troubling or troubled people, but do not meet the criteria for categorisation demanded for a field of science or medicine."

The debate, which also featured brief contributions from the senior MPs Paul Flynn and Frank Field, was replied to by the health minister Simon Burns.

Mr Burns said it is for the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and not the Department of Health to review the evidence and to provide national clinical guidance. NICE will soon be announcing the outcome of a review of whether it should update its 2008 guidelines on the treatment of ADHD.

He did not agree to either of the reviews proposed by Mr McFadden, but did say that the DH is investigating whether further helpful information can be derived from prescribing research databases.

Mr Burns also said that "the chief medical officer and the NHS medical director plan to write to clinicians to remind them of the full range of NICE guidelines on conditions - including ADHD - that affect children's mental health. They will highlight the opportunities to support rigorous use of evidence-based treatment through the improving access to psychological therapies programme."

As an experiment we covered the debate as it took place on the Society’s Twitter account. If you followed this please leave a comment to say whether you found it useful.