Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Last week, in Part One of this post, I focused on the ideas of Professor Richard Bentall - for more press this link here. This week, in Part Two, I begin with the thoughts of his colleague, Peter Kinderman.

In February 2016, following Bentall's Open Letter to Stephen Fry with its telling presentation of the critical importance of social determinants in our psychological wellbeing, Kindermann and a group of colleagues, including Bentall, wrote a parallel Open Letter to the BBC and other media organisations about their inadequate coverage of mental health issues. Over a thousand mental health professionals and people who had experienced mental health problems soon signed their letter in which a critique was set out concerning the coverage of mental health in the recent BBC 'In the Mind' series.

Their primary complaint was that the BBC programmes seemed to suggest that psychiatric medication - drug treatment - should be the main, if not the only, treatment for mental health problems. They pointed out that such a message is harmful because it potentially leads to hopelessness, despair and prejudice and discrimination. And they also expressed concern about the long-term efficacy and safety of those drugs. To simply promote medication without also presenting other approaches such as psychological therapy is biased and irresponsible.

The letter concluded with the plea that as a matter of urgency the BBC commission a similarly high-profile programme featuring professionals and service users who adopt the alternative approach that the letter has outlined. The Director of the BBC, Tony Hall, responded with a brief note signifying little or nothing in March 2016; my Google searches have shown no further action by the BBC. What