Peter Kinderman – Why We Need a Revolution in Mental Health Care


This week on MIA Radio, we chat with Professor Peter Kinderman. Peter is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust and Clinical Advisor for Public Health England, UK. He was 2016-2017 President of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and twice chair of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology. His research activity and clinical work concentrate on serious and enduring mental health problems, as well as on how psychological science can assist public policy in health and social care. His previous books include A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing, released in 2013.

In this interview, we discuss Peter’s new book, A Manifesto for Mental Health, Why We Need a Revolution in Mental Health Care, which presents a radically new and distinctive outlook that critically examines the dominant ‘disease-model’ of mental health care.

The book highlights persuasive evidence that our mental health and wellbeing depend largely on the society in which we live, on the things happen to us, and on how we learn to make sense of and respond to those events. Peter proposes a rejection of invalid diagnostic labels, practical help rather than medication, and a recognition that distress is usually an understandable human response to life’s challenges.

We discuss:

  • What led Peter to his interest in psychology, having initially been interested in physics and philosophy.
  • How his academic and clinical work have influenced each other throughout his career.
  • Why it is important to challenge mainstream mental health messages, not just as an academic exercise but also for the good of society.
  • That it is pretty clear that we currently have a very poor system for responding to emotional distress.
  • How we are not offering real-world help for real-world problems.
  • That it is vital for us to offer people an alternative framework of understanding to allow them to decide for themselves how best to frame and therefore respond to difficulty.
  • That Peter has observed changes in language that are helping to support public realisation that ‘mental illness’ is an idea or theory rather than undeniable fact.
  • How a psychosocially-based mental health response might work.
  • That Peter’s would like to see psychiatrists treating children to be employed by the authority also in charge of education provision.
  • How our hierarchical health system gives doctors enormous power.
  • That the Nordic countries have evolved a more socially-integrated and community-based approach, which better integrates health and social care.
  • How those that are critical of the illness model are sometimes viewed as ‘deniers of real experiences’, but that this is a mischaracterisation because it is more about understanding those experiences in a different way or using a different framework.

Relevant links:

A Manifesto for Mental Health – Why We Need a Revolution in Mental Health Care

A Prescription for Psychiatry – Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

Professor Peter Kinderman, University of Liverpool, talks about a manifesto for mental health at the DECP Annual Conference 2016


  1. If “Severe Mental Illness” IS a Long Term Mental Illness in Psychiatry requiring long term and Disabling Drug treatment ; I can’t understand how someone can Recover Completely* through Psychological means (and stopping the Disabling Drug treatment).

    Examples of complete recovery throgh Psychology might be:-

    Psychologist Dr Elanour Langden*


    Psychologist Dr Rufus May*.

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    • I don’t know about psychology alone, but if you take your supplements, watch what you eat, avoid sweets and desserts and stay away from stimulants and hallucinogens, you can make a decent approximation without a great deal of difficulty.

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  2. With ‘Schizophrenia’ what people often suffer from when they attempt to Withdraw from strong Psychiatric Drugs is a condition described by Robert Whitaker as “High Anxiety”.

    The way a person might deal with High Anxiety is the same way as someone might deal with normal anxiety:- “allowing the anxious feelings to pass off before examining the anxiety”. With High Anxiety this can be VERY VERY difficult BUT can be successful.

    It’s also important to withdraw very SLOWLY from strong psychiatric medications.

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  3. NO, we do not need any Mental Health Care Revolution or any Mental Health Revolution. We need to eradicate the Mental Health System, and to prosecute the present practitioners.

    With Psychotherapy, Recovery, Life Coaching, and Motivationalism, just stop our government from being able to license these, and stop our government from being able to fund or promote them.

    And it all starts by just learning to say FU.

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    • That doesn’t sound like a “revolution” is a good thing. But I doubt that’s the definition of “revolution” Peter’s going for, unless he’s talking about a revolution where the psychologists and psychiatrists win, and everyone else dies.

      But that is the “revolution” psychiatry and psychology collectively have been waging against humanity, under psychiatry’s control, for decades. So it wouldn’t actually be a “revolution,” or “change.”

      I’m guessing this definition of “revolution” is the one implied:

      “a : a sudden, radical, or complete change
      “b : a fundamental change in political organization
      especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed
      “c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
      “d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm”

      In as much as Whitaker pointed out in a recent post that we can’t eliminate psychiatry’s power, even though we have the science on our side, because psychiatry is a branch of medicine. And for [nefarious] reasons, each branch of medicine has wrongly been given the power to police itself by our government, essentially. I do believe having the psychologists, which have been complicit in the crimes of psychiatry for the past fifty years, or longer, speaking out against today’s scientific fraud based psychiatric industry, may be a good thing.

      However, given the reality that the psychologists have been working hand in hand with the psychiatrists, to murder millions, over recent decades.

      And the reality that the psychologists and psychiatrists, historically and today, still share a common goal. Which is profiteering off of covering up child abuse and rape.

      I must agree, trusting any faction of the so called “mental health profession” is likely unwise. I’m quite certain that, if the “mental health” industry is to survive, it needs to find a primary societal function that is not illegal, as covering up child abuse and rape is.

      Because all with brains in their heads should be able to understand that having multiple industries, with an ultimate goal of covering up child abuse and sexual assault crimes, outside the law, is not beneficial to society as a whole. Because, of course, those industries are also aiding, abetting, and empowering the pedophiles and child sex traffickers. And these psychological and psychiatric crimes against humanity have taken us to a dark time in human history.

      Our society needs to start actually arresting the pedophiles and child sex traffickers, and our “mental health professionals” need to get out of the business of profiteering off of covering up these crimes.

      And is there actually any function for the scientific fraud based “mental health” workers, if they are not in the business of covering up child abuse and rape? I don’t know that there is.

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    • And it is already life and death, because this country is going in a fascist direction, wanting to kick people off of food stamps and school lunches, and wanting to make homeless internment camps, and then creating a HUGE underclass of family scape goats, via ~Mental Health~ and ~Autism-Aspergers~.

      Less and less labor is needed every single day. The place where we will be converting human corpses into Nutrition Bars and Petroleum is not that far out.

      We do need to make a revolution, but not in ~mental health~.

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  4. In my opinion ‘Enduring Mental Illness’ shouldn’t be very enduring in ‘Psychology’. I remember Dr Peter Breggin (I believe) in one of his articles mentioning that a young person coming to him with Severe Diagnosis in the summer might be back at ‘school’ in the Autumn.

    I believe a person can also make complete recovery with the help of a psychologist without confiding their ‘personal life’ to the psychologist.

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  5. “That Peter’s would like to see psychiatrists treating children to be employed by the authority also in charge of education provision.”

    This was where you lost my interest, considering the amount of damage schools do in the process of preparing kids to be worker bees for capitalism. The last things kids need is more “mental healthcare” delivered through the school system.

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  6. Psychology and psychiatry are more powerful, and therefore more damaging to more people, than when The Myth of Mental Illness was first published. Some random thoughts from me…

    1) religions are designed to deal with distress, provide guidance, now and then tangible assistance to followers. I suppose in a postmodern, highly secularized era Mental Health, Inc. is the state-sponsored religion all are expected to follow (?), and…

    2) this doesn’t sound so much like a “revolution in mental health” as it does a shift in the methods of control Mental Health, Inc. uses to keep the misfits+outliers+troubled+just about anybody under control. Fewer pills, more talk. so, I’m thinking…

    3) this is probably also something of a power grab, disguised as a “revolution.” Mental Health, Inc. in charge of ‘education provision,’ handling the financial needs of the poor and working classes…

    with the goal, it seems, of taking the current Therapeutic State up several notches.

    Ideally, Mental Health, Inc. should be somehow put out of business. At a practical level, the industry seems to grow ever more powerful, year by year. Perhaps a softer touch is the best that one can realistically expect, at this point, at least for society as a whole.

    ‘within the velvet glove lies the iron fist’ 🙁

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  7. Thanks James and Dr. Kinderman for this interview. As per your book A Prescription for Psychiatry “traditional thinking about mental health care is profoundly flawed” and as you note in the interview if we carry on with things the way they are people are being labelled with “diseases that simply don’t exist” and “given drugs that do more harm than good.”

    Yes, drastic change is needed. Psychiatry has no science or evidence for entirely subjective and constructed labels that “simply don’t exist” – yet the word of psychiatry rules supreme over ALL other medical doctors, psychologists, etc? That is absurd! Psychiatry must be stripped of its unbridled power and control. That would be a good first step.

    James you make a great point – “understanding human experiences, behaviours and emotions is something we are required to do every day as individuals in society”. Yes – the average person must do that every day so why do so many psychiatrists not have the skills, compassion, common sense or good judgment to do just that?
    I echo your thanks James to Professor Kinderman and others for “being willing to put themselves out there to challenge the mainstream”. Much respect to those who are speaking out to save lives. Thanks again.

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    • Hi Rosalee, thank you so much for listening, speaking personally I found much to be optimistic about in this interview and I do believe that we can move towards treating everyone with compassion, empathy and respect whether that’s in everyday life or when someone is struggling.

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