A NEW APPROACH TO RESEARCH IN MENTAL HEALTH: New York Times Jan 18 2015

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Recently, the British Psychological Association released a report that redefines mental health.

The tradition in psychiatry has been to use diagnosis driven research, in which a researcher focuses on, for example, schizophrenia or anxiety.

This research has not resulted in dramatic improvements in mental health.

The new focus will be on a matrix of neuroscience structures ( genes, cells and circuits).

Psychiatric researchers will not longer study people with anxiety; they will study fear circuitry.

The report rejects the centrality of diagnosis. One reason is that the diagnosis can be a devastating label.

The understanding is that social experience plays a significant role in who becomes mentally ill, when they fall ill and how their illness unfolds.  According to the report, illness requires social interventions and not just drugs.

One outcome is that “talk therapy” will regain importance. Many psychiatrists do not engage in “talk therapy” and rely totally on drugs; however, their focus might change, in the future, to include “talk therapy” in their repertoire.

That is what patients should ask for.