Intended for healthcare professionals


Research into treatments for mental illness is under threat

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 14 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3747

Great news for mental health care

Drug companies losing interest in psychiatry is great news for
psychiatry, mental health services, but most of all for patients.
Hopefully other research funding sources will also recognise that a focus
on the 'brain' is not a credible evidence based choice that is likely to
contribute to better care for those who suffer mental distress. Drug
companies have found mental health highly lucrative, with multi-billion
pound blockbuster drugs like the misnamed (for marketing purposes) anti-
depressants and anti-psychotics. However, sooner or later it was going to
become apparent that all the drugs they made were of dubious
effectiveness, had varying degrees of neurotoxicity, created abnormal
mental states (Which can been life saving-ly helpful for some at certain
points in their distress) rather than corrected them, and were only
different to illicit drugs through who provides them and how they are
subsequently used rather than because of discoveries of some particular
therapeutic potency. Sooner or later it would become apparent that the
evidence based cupboard was empty.

The biological psychiatry a reliance on psychotropics has encouraged,
has presided over some remarkable developments such as an increase in the
numbers and a worsening of the long term prognosis for those categorised
as 'mentally ill' (Whitaker, 2010) and an increase in stigma that is
associated with the mental illness is 'an illness like any other illness'
model (Read et al, 2006). Freed from the corrupting shackles of the
pharmaceutical industry we can put money into helping better understanding
of the factors that do have the biggest effects on outcome: social factors
outside of treatment and the therapeutic relationship within treatment
(Timimi, 2011).


Read, J., Haslam, N., Sayce, L., Davies, E. (2006) Prejudice and
schizophrenia: A review of the 'Mental illness is an Illness like any
other' approach. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 114, 303-318.

Timimi, S. (2011) Campaign to Abolish Psychiatric diagnostic Systems
such as ICD and DSM (CAPSID). Available at:

Whitaker, R. (2010) Anatomy of an Epidemic. New York: Crown

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 June 2011
Sami Timimi
Consultant Child and Adolescent psychitrist
NHS Lincolnshire