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State of Mind
Wednesday 2100-2130
About the series
Claudia Hammond charts the development of mental health care in the UK from the 1950s until today, to ask where we are now, and where we’re going. Will the stigma of mental illness ever be entirely removed?
Which Way Now?
Wednesday 4 February 2009
Claudia Hammond
This social history of mental health care reaches the present day and asks what's been learned and what the future holds. Do better drugs and CBT hold the answers, and will the stigma ever go away?
In this final programme Claudia Hammond visits the Wellcome Trust facility at Manchester University, where Professor Bill Deakin, Director of the Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit, is conducting experiments into new drug therapies for schizophrenia and depression. And she meets Louis Appleby, the government's mental health tsar and Dinesh Bhugra, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to discuss their views of the future.

In any one year in the UK, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. How we're treated depends on the current understanding and attitude to mental illness. All those who were asked, including many Radio 4 listeners who contributed their experiences as mental health service users or providers over the last half century, conceded that it is better to have a mental health problem now than at any other point in that time. Yet there were reservations: Although the huge Victorian asylums could be cruel and impersonal, they did afford a retreat from a world that can be difficult to navigate at a time of mental crisis. Today, with acute beds scarce, you are soon tipped back out to cope in the community as best you can when you suffer ‘an episode’.

On the other hand, drugs are much improved, with far fewer side effects, and the recognition that talking therapies can help (even if they are hard to access) makes for an approach that is more understanding.

In speaking to those who have experienced mental health care and those who have supplied it for over half a century, what struck the presenter, Claudia Hammond, time and again was that how we are helped depends on the current social and political emphasis as much as on the latest drug advances. Most importantly, whether we are understood or stigmatised will vary according to our culture and social framework.

In 5 programmes Claudia Hammond charts the developments in mental health care decade by decade, from the huge impact of the new psycho-active drugs in the 1950s, via the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and the closure of the asylums, through care in the community in the 1980s and the development of Prozac nation with the medicalisation of behaviour in the 1990s, to ask where we are now, and where we are going. Will the stigma of mental illness ever be entirely removed?

Additional Information
Myth of the Chemical Cure by Joanna Moncrieff, Palgrave Macmillan; 1 edition (7 Dec 2007) ISBN-10: 0230574319 ISBN-13: 978-0230574311

Closing the Asylum: The Mental Patient in Modern Society by Peter Barham, Penguin Books Ltd; 2Rev Ed edition (30 Oct 1997) ISBN-10: 0140265805 ISBN-13: 978-0140265804

Madness to Mental Illness: A History of the Royal College of Psychiatrists by Thomas Bewley, pub. The Royal College of Psychiatrists July 2008 - ISBN-13: 9781904671350

David Nutt

Joanna Moncrieff

Phil Thomas

Mary Boyle

Alan Corkish

Peter Campbell

Suman Fernando

Louis Appleby

Dinesh Bhugra

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Bill Deakin

Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, Manchester
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