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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Psychiatry and neuroscience

Last week, I was interested to read a BMJ paper arguing it is time to end the distinction between mental and neurological illnesses. The focus of this paper was on DSM-V and ICD-11, but it provides yet another voice suggesting psychiatry should be absorbed into neuroscience. No one can doubt the importance of the neurosciences, and what is coming out of this field of research. However, human beings at risk of, or with, mental disorder do not exist outwith a social content.

We really do our users and carers, public health, primary care and the rest of medicine – to say nothing of social care, education and justice – an irrevocable injustice if we don’t hold onto the importance of psychiatry as the best branch of medicine. We embed ourselves in a psychosocial context, deal with complexity at the edge of uncertainty, and there is a substantial evidence base for what we do.

On Friday, I attended the official opening of the Institute of Mental Health’s new £7 million building in Nottingham. This is a great example of how researchers, clinicians and service providers can work together. Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies performed the official opening, and sang the praises of how this Institute has brought together all the relevant specialties to deliver evidence-based, integrated care and real translational research for the benefit of patients.

I hope you all had a good weekend and enjoy the weather for the next couple of days.


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