BAP Past President Prof Guy Goodwin, and Guardian journalist David Adams addressed a full house at Cheltenham Science Festival on Tuesday 2nd June, as part of the BAP-sponsored session entitled “Treating Mental Illness”.
A strong theme running through both speakers’ talks was the acknowledgement that, although current treatments for mental illness are far from perfect, they are infinitely superior to those available 50 years ago, coupled with a hope that they will continue to improve, as the result of clinically-oriented research.
Guy opened by explaining why randomised placebo-controlled trials are critical for providing a sound evidence base on which to make clinical decisions. He demonstrated that the treatments (both drugs and psychological interventions) available for mental health disorders have similar efficacies to those in other areas of medicine. However, he emphasised that the importance of considering individual patients on a case-by-case basis and tailoring treatment appropriately is particularly important for mental illness, compared to other areas of medicine.
David then gave a frank account of his experiences with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). He explained how it feels to suffer from OCD and how anxious he initially was about seeking treatment. He then explained how he now “has more good days than bad”, as the result of a course of cognitive behavioural therapy and on-going antidepressant drug treatment.
Following the speakers opening remarks, there was a lively debate which covered scientific and therapeutic developments, as well as audience members’ experience will mental illness, which continued into the “Talking Points” area after the session.
Click here for more information about OCD (web accessible version)