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Prescription pad still rules in mental health

YOU bear good tidings in the form of comments from psychiatrist Pat Bracken, director of West Cork mental health services (July 20) At last, a creative and authentic voice for ethical and mature mental health service delivery.

Placing the service-user central to the therapeutic response on offer is paramount to a modern, humane mental health service. Respect and decency are core, empowerment and diversity vital.

Mental healthcare is not merely about doctors and medicalised treatment. It is about human beings receiving their rightful range of therapeutic supports, coupled with comprehensive community integration. These therapeutic supports may be many and varied, tailored to suit each, very different, situation.

The Vision for Change mental health policy (2006) espouses such a spectrum of community-based therapeutic options, and the essential spirit of the policy is sound. However, appointing a predominance of psychiatrists over the past few years as clinical team leaders has ensured a dearth of resources for other therapies, plus a claustrophobic reliance on the medical model.

One psychiatrist’s salary would employ four other therapists of varied hue, yet the traditional professional territorialism has broadly prevailed. Thus, the system continues to be over medicalised, as Pat Bracken clearly illuminates, and the prescription pad still rules the roost, to say nothing of the travesty of ECT overuse and involuntary detention.

Jim Cosgrove

Senior Music Therapist

Chapel Street


Co Waterford


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