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Mad in America: Rethinking Mental Health

The Mad in America podcast, hosted by James Moore, examines mental health with a critical eye by speaking with psychologists, psychiatrists and people with lived experience.

When you hear such conversations, you realise that much of what is believed to be settled in mental health is actually up for debate. Is mental health a matter of faulty biology or is there more to it? Are the treatments used in psychiatry helpful or harmful in the long term? Are psychiatric diagnoses reliable? With the help of our guests, we examine these questions and so much more. 

This podcast is part of Mad in America’s mission to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care and mental health. We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change. 

On the podcast over the coming weeks, we will have interviews with experts and those with lived experience of the psychiatric system. Thank you for joining us as we discuss the many issues around rethinking mental health around the world.

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Jun 12, 2019

On MIA Radio this week, MIA’s Tim Beck interviewed Dr. Felicity Thomas and Dr. Richard Byng. Dr. Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow in the Medical School and a Senior Research Fellow on the Cultural Contexts of Health in the College of Humanities at the University of Exeter. She is also a co-director (with Professor Mark Jackson) of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Culture and Health and works closely with the WHO Regional Office for Europe project on the Cultural Contexts of Health.

Dr. Byng is a professor in primary care research at the University of Plymouth. Dr. Byng is also trained as a general practitioner with a particular interest in mental health care. Over the last 20 years, he has worked on various large-scale research projects related to access, commissioning, inter-professional working and implementation of evidence-based practice, while publishing extensively on topics related to the social contexts of health and professional care.

Together, Dr. Thomas and Dr. Byng have contributed to the DeSTRESS project, which consists of a team of researchers in the United Kingdom who seek to learn about why and how poverty-related issues have become increasingly pathologized. This includes exploring how high levels of antidepressant prescription and use are impacting people’s health and wellbeing in low-income communities in southwest England.

Their final report published in April 2019, entitled Poverty, Pathology, and Pills, situates increasing rates of mental health diagnosis and psychiatric prescriptions within socioeconomic and policy trends across the UK. An overarching conclusion of this research was that there is a need to reconceptualize the way that health professionals respond to poverty-related distress. This requires a response that recognizes the bio-psycho-social and reduces pressures on general practitioners (GPs) to make rapid decisions around diagnosing and prescribing.