In this show we look at how professionals working in mental health relate to their own experiences of distress. Can a worker’s own history of difficulties enrich their practice? Or are other factors more important? Should a worker’s own experiences be taboo when talking to service users, or It is helpful for a professional to be open about things that have happened to them?
Following last week’s BBC Panorama on the dangers of anti-depressants Clinical Psychologist Angela Gilchrist suggests we urgently need more balanced coverage.
What do anti-depressants do to help you? And can they do harm? These were the questions I thought might be addressed in the BBC’s Panorama programme last week. Informative and balanced coverage of mental health issues is desperately lacking in the media and I was ready for anything that might properly inform the debate. Really though, the lurid title, ‘A Prescription for Murder’, should have tipped me off that this might be one of the less helpful contributions to the public’s knowledge of psychiatric medication. The impression left was that drugs do all sorts of harm and any potential benefit is nonexistent.
John McGowan asks if it’s OK for mental health professionals to give opinions on Donald Trump’s mental health?
Someone asked me what I thought about Donald Trump the other day. I was about to give a fairly obvious reply when the earnest tone and questioning look made me pause. As the penny dropped I realised I wasn’t being asked my opinion as a person, I was being asked what I thought as a psychologist. Did I think the US president was mentally unwell and thus not fit for the office he holds?
In this edition our panel offer some thoughts on the 2017 General Election: called by the Prime Minister in the hope of winning a large majority, but offering a far less clear result. To help us along we have an interview with our colleague Dr Mark Bennister, Reader in Politics and a specialist in political leadership. Mark talks us through the campaign, analyses the leaders’ performances and assesses the current situation with a hung Parliament. We talk about how psychological theories may shed some light on how people voted. We also discuss populism, rationality, the strong feelings raised on all sides and whether any politician can get elected if they tell us we’ll lose out.
[NOTE: The following piece originated as an address to clinical psychologists, but also is highly relevant to others working in mental health]
Right now there’s a lot of people losing hope. If clinical psychology is the industry of the promotion human wellbeing, there’s a lot of people in need of your goods and services. I’ve been asked to discuss what happens when clinical psychology gets beyond the therapy room. So first, a little scene setting. Imagine this as the pre-credits sequence where the camera zooms across the landscape giving us a sense of the scale and scope of the story we’re about to see unfold. In just what kind of a land is this therapy room situated? Who are its inhabitants? What’s the story? You can hum your own suitably stirring theme music. Or perhaps the Benny Hill theme if you’re not as impressed with the direction I’m taking.