Mental health services have become increasingly dominated by psychiatry’s ”medical model”, which claims that feeling depressed, anxious or paranoid is primarily caused by genetic predispositions and chemical imbalances.
This has led to alarming rises in chemical solutions to distress. In New Zealand, one in nine adults (and one in five women) is prescribed antidepressants every year.
The public, however, in every country studied, including Australia, believes that mental health problems are caused by issues such as stress, poverty and isolation. The public also prefers talking therapies to drugs and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Research suggests the public is right. For example, the single best predictor of just about every mental health problem is poverty, followed by other social factors such as abuse, neglect and early loss of parents in childhood, and – once in adulthood – loneliness and a range of adverse events including losses and defeats of various kinds.