Approaches to Mental Health Discussed by Award Winning Author Robert Whitaker

Posted on: 10 March 2011

Acclaimed medical author and journalist Robert Whitaker recently addressed a capacity audience during his visit to Trinity College when he gave a public lecture titled Is the bio-psychiatric approach causing an epidemic of psychiatric disorders?  During his talk, Whitaker argued the need for open conversation regarding how to stem the epidemic of disabling mental distress in society before he moved to an approach that could help people get well and stay well over the long term.

The last 50 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of psychiatric diagnoses given to adults and children.  This increase closely parallels the growth and dominance of psychiatric drugs as treatment.  Through his work Robert Whitaker documents a history of science and medicine and questions whether the drug-based approach could actually be fuelling this modern-day epidemic?  

Professor Mary McCarron (Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery TCD) ; Professor Colm Ó Morain (Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, TCD); Robert Whitaker and Professor Agnes Higgins (School of Nursing and Midwifery TCD).

Speaking about the approach to mental illness, Head of Psychiatric Nursing and Associate Professor of Nursing at TCD’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, Agnes Higgins, said: “Mental health practitioners are being increasingly challenged to critique practices and ideas, including the privileging of the biomedical perspective within mental health care.  In the context of current debate on recovery and recovery approaches to mental distress, Robert Whitaker’s work offers a salutary contribution.”

The lecture was organised by TCD’s School of Nursing and Midwifery in association with the Critical Voice Network and the Irish Institute of Mental Health Nursing.