Dr David Harper has contributed to a major report published this week by the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology, which challenges received wisdom about the nature of mental illness.
‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help’ has been written by a group of eminent clinical psychologists, including Dr Harper, drawn from eight universities and six NHS trusts, together with people who have themselves experienced psychosis.
The report provides an accessible overview of the current state of knowledge, and its conclusions have profound implications both for the way we understand ‘mental illness’ and for the future of mental health services.
The report has been endorsed by NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, the Rt Hon. Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support and the Head of Information at Mind. Professor Jamie Hacker-Hughes, President Elect of the British Psychological Society described the report as a “milestone in psychological health”.
Dr Harper, who is a Reader in Clinical Psychology and Programme Director (Academic) Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at UEL, said: “The forms of mental distress which result in diagnoses like psychosis and schizophrenia are much misunderstood. This new report is written in accessible language, designed so that ordinary members of the public, including service users and their friends and families can fully inform themselves about the nature and causes of psychosis, the pros and cons of different forms of help and the kind of long term changes needed to improve the response of mental health services. Given the importance of a range of social factors in the causes of severe distress it also suggests a number of societal-level changes which might reduce the kinds of adversities which can lead to psychosis. It is an ambitious document and deserves to be read by all those interested in this important topic”.