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US focus on new psychiatric disorders is distracting attention from tackling global mental health problems

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2071 (Published 14 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2071
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

A “crisis of confidence” in psychiatry in the United States risks contaminating global efforts to combat mental health disorders, says a World Health Organization adviser.

Vikram Patel, a member of WHO’s expert advisory group on mental health, said that a controversial US review of psychiatric diagnoses was distracting professionals from tackling the extensive mental health needs of people in low and middle income countries.

He highlighted fears over the “medicalisation of human nature,” saying, “I am watching this debate with grave concern. My biggest worry is that it will be a barrier to improving mental health problems globally.”

Dr Patel is professor of international mental health and Wellcome Trust senior research fellow in clinical science at the Centre for Global Mental Health, which is based at the London School of Hygiene and …

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