TUC backs call for review of medication

The call for a national review of the psychiatric medication of children, which the Society supported earlier this year, was backed by the TUC Congress on Wednesday.

Kate Fallon, the general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, told delegates: “Behaviours develop over a long period of time, often with a range of complex causes; we can’t ‘cure’ the behaviours we don’t like with a quick fix of medicine. They usually require careful management by all the adults around the child.

“In 2013 we’re expecting new criteria for the definition of mental illness to be adopted here in the UK. These criteria will lead to many more children being diagnosed as mentally ill, based on reports of their behaviours.

“A shy child could be diagnosed with social anxiety; a sad or temporarily withdrawn child could be diagnosed with depression.

“These are conditions which are also likely to be treated with medication – and under these circumstances, Congress, we will be putting potent drugs into children with little or no understanding of what it will lead to.

“In a society that wants quick results using drugs to improve behaviour is very tempting. But there can be other ways of improving children’s behaviour which typically involve time and energy from people.”

And Professor Peter Kinderman from the University of Liverpool, the chair of the Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology, told the Daily Telegraph:

“We’re not certain that a diagnosis and a medical response is the best way to help these kids.

“Absolutely understand and help, not necessarily diagnose and treat.”

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