W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model


From Psychology Today: “The thousands around the world who critique an overly biological approach to understanding and helping one another when we are very distressed are often dismissed as ‘radical’ or ‘extremists’ or ‘ideologues.’ Critics of the dominant ‘medical model’ approach, promoted by biological psychiatry and the drug companies, are often labeled and denigrated as ‘anti-psychiatry,’ when we view ourselves as anti- bad science and anti- ineffective, unsafe treatments.

Yet even some prominent psychiatrists have spoken up against the corrupting role of drug companies and the simplistic model they have promoted in order to sell their products.

. . . More recently the message has been taken up by no less an organization than the United Nations, in the person of its ‘Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health’ (2014-2000), Dainius PĹ«ras.

. . . On June 10th, the World Health Organization joined in, with a 300-page document entitled ‘Guidance on Community Mental Health Services: Promoting Person-Centred and Rights-Based Approaches.’

. . . Previously isolated pockets of activists — patients, family members, mental health staff and researchers — are increasingly joining together in global organizations, such as the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis, to name just two.

It will be harder for die-hard defenders of the medical model to dismiss such organizations, or the UN and the WHO, as extremist, anti-psychiatry radicals. The time for a fundamental paradigm change in mental health may, finally, be drawing near.”

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  1. This is good news. But…the U.N. has become very adept at marketing. Can they actually DO anything to give some teeth to these more humanistic principles?

    The U.N. is peopled mostly by college graduates and other intellectuals, and while such persons are quite capable of writing high-minded reports, they are also quite capable of letting gross atrocities slip under their noses, then adding the needed spin to deflect their responsibility for what happened. (I am thinking in particular of the story of how cholera was introduced to Haiti.)

    So, this report lands on me similar to how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights might have landed on the planet in its day. It is beautifully worded and was signed by almost every nation. But until my church began to broadly publicize its existence, very few people even knew about it. And by the way, how is human rights doing around the world today?

    So, well done on the lip service. Now, could we please see some action?

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