Are We All Going Mad? Changing Approaches to Mental Health by Prof Ray Miller

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Prof Ray Miller
Prof Ray Miller


Title of talk:

Are we all going mad? Changing approaches to Mental Health


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Mental Health has become increasingly discussed and debated
  • 1 in 4 people are diagnosed with a mental health problem in a year
  • Medicalisation means these problems are often identified as ‘illness’
  • Pathologizing normal behaviour
  • Massive increase in drug prescriptions, especially for mild to moderate issues
  • Is this evidence based, and are there alternative approaches?
  • Or are we all going mad?


A few paragraphs on your subject:

Mental disorders have been described as by far the most significant of the chronic conditions affecting the population of Europe, accounting for just under 40% of all years lived with disability.

A medical model has dominated in the approaches to understanding and treating mental health issues. This is increasingly being called into question. The staggering increase in the numbers and varieties of mental illnesses, demonstrated in the growth of the major diagnostic manuals (DSM and ICD), is being challenged.

It is suggested that many of the diagnoses lack rigorous scientific evidence and rather rely on anecdotal accounts from the psychiatrists who developed the guidelines. There is concern that, in some cases, normal and non-clinical behaviours are being pathologized.

This has been reflected in, and perhaps initiated by, a massive growth in the availability of prescription medications. Though extremely popular, their effectiveness and scientific basis is again being questioned, particularly as some may have serious side or withdrawal effects.

More recently, attention is beginning to be focussed on alternative approaches. These emphasise the social and environmental causes of mental health issues and consider alternatives to medical understandings and interventions.

Deprivation, cost of living, employment stress and the lingering impact of the recent pandemic and lockdown are all considered as potential targets for constructive change. Additionally, there is a need to take account of the lived experience and views of those who have encountered such issues.

Are these the way forward, how are they being implemented, are they adequately resourced, or are we all really going mad?


A few paragraphs about you:

I am a retired Clinical and Health Psychologist. For 35 years I worked in the NHS in both England and Scotland. When I retired, in 2010, I was the Professional Advisor for Psychology in NHS Lothian.

However, Psychology was never just a qualification nor a career. It fascinated me from an early stage as a way to help understand people and life. After retirement, I kept up involvement in my professional body, the British Psychological Society, in several roles.

I also give public talks in a number of settings, including Ragged University, and currently hold an Honorary Professorship at Heriot Watt University. Recently I have been acting as Professional Advisor to 1Mind, who are developing online access to counselling and mental wellbeing.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others?

The Myth of Mental Health Diagnosis


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) Overview


Why do we love to pathologise normal behaviour online?


A Decisive Blow to the Serotonin Hypothesis of Depression


Are you mentally ill, or very unhappy? Psychiatrists can’t agree


The link between mental health and social conditions


What are your weblinks?

Public Email – [email protected]



This event took place on the 17th May 2023 at The Outhouse (12A Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh)