The future of mental health services in the 21st century

UEL Psychology Seminar Series, 18th March 2015, 17:00-18:00 Arthur Edwards Building, Room 2.06

With Professor Dinesh Bhughra CBE, Professor of Mental Health and Diversity, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London


For centuries, individuals with mental health illnesses were known as aliens and mental health professionals were known as alienists. In the last 60 years or so, there have been major advances in understanding the aetiology of mental health illnesses and in developing newer interventions; these include not only drug therapies but also psychotherapies.

Research and services in mental health at this moment stand at the cusp of exciting discoveries and social changes.  As a result of recent globalisation in many parts of the world, there has been an increase in urbanisation and industrialisation which has changed societies, their structures and support systems.

With the recent worldwide economic downturn, pressures on resources – including health resources – have increased dramatically.  This has led to pressures at the very time when more resources are needed.  In addition, key stakeholders’ views are changing.  Politicians want us to focus on risk assessment and management.  Patients are becoming more aware of their needs and have better knowledge of their medication and illnesses.

In the early 21st Century, understanding of genome mapping has led to the development of psychopharmacogenomics.  Nevertheless, stigma, prejudice and discrimination towards mental illness, the mentally ill and mental health professionals continue, leading to an increasing mental health gap across the globe.  Shortage of human resources produces yet another challenge.  Social media, advances in technology and newer ways of learning are critical to our understanding of delivery of services in this century.  The closure of asylums and the move to the community services must be borne in mind as contributing to further challenges.  Public mental health strategies must be taken into account.

Brief Biography:

Professor Dinesh Bhugra CBE is President of the World Psychiatric Association (2011-2014).  He is the recipient of over 10 honorary degrees.  His research interests are in cultural psychiatry, sexual dysfunction and service development.  He has authored/co-authored over 350 scientific papers, chapters and 30 books.  He is the Editor of the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, International Review of Psychiatry and International Journal of Culture and Mental Health.  Previously he was the Dean (2003-2008) and President (2008-2011) of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, where he led on major policy initiatives on society’s contract with society and the role of the psychiatrist.

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