The question that matters here is, why is this important?
This mental/physical divide is stigmatising and unhelpful. There is a tendency for our society to be dismissive of disorders of the ‘mind’. It variably sees them as both trivial and self-indulgent or at the other extreme, something which cannot be helped. In the former case, they are seen as unreal and lacking in substance, as though a stiff drink and a good shake is all that is needed to rouse the afflicted from their malady. In the latter case, the sufferer is labelled as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’, beyond the realm of treatment. Although studies have shown that establishing a biological basis may not remove the stigma attached to mental illness, it can reduce ‘self-stigma’ and increase the likelihood that the sufferer will seek medical help. Importantly, however, it was shown to reduce discrimination in the field of policy, which is vital in securing much needed funds. And this is important, as something must be done about the inequity that is allowed to exist across our country. Indeed, it is only recently that politicians have introduced mental health targets to the NHS, despite the fact that the government had declared mental patients should have ‘parity of esteem’ in getting treatment over 18 months before.
Up until now, a patient would typically see a GP first. If necessary they would be instructed to wait until mental health services got in in touch. This might be anything from a couple of months to a year. Anti-depressants could be prescribed in the first instance, but evidence shows that these are significantly more effective when taken in conjunction with therapy. It is upsetting to learn that nearly two thirds of Britons with depression are undergoing no form of treatment. The charity Mind reports that 1 in 6 patients will try and kill themselves whilst awaiting treatment. Think about this for a moment. If the government took this approach to more high profile forms of illness such as cancer there would be public outrage.