The Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) is an association of British psychiatrists who caution against the over-medicalisation of mental ill-health and reliance on psychoactive medicines.

“Critical psychiatry offers a critique of the now widely accepted view that mental illness is a brain disease, consisting of a chemical imbalance or other specific abnormality, and that this abnormality can be effectively treated with prescribed drugs,” the organisation said earlier this year.

Depression? It's all in the mind

“There is no evidence that people with depression have any specific abnormality of their serotonin system, or any other system. There is no evidence that antidepressants ‘work’ by correcting this hypothetical abnormality.”

It too roots mental illness in social factors and causes. “The problem with looking at mental disorders as if they were a sub-species of physical illness is that it renders the problems people have meaningless, and it obscures the role that social problems such as poverty, insecure employment, precarious housing, social isolation and loneliness play in the genesis and perpetuation of mental health difficulties,” the CPN says. “Locating the problem in an individual’s brain encourages passivity and dependence and discourages people from playing an active role in their own recovery.”

I've become more critical of the whole system

Dr Derek Tracy of the Royal College of Psychiatrists says there is nothing wrong with the Framework’s thesis that attempting to get to grips with people’s past life, including childhood or later-life trauma, abuse, or neglect is important. But the internationally recognised diagnoses do help many patients, he says.

“Psychiatrists appreciate that no diagnostic tool can be perfect, but a psychiatric diagnosis allows many people to better understand their mental health problems as well as help guide the treatment they receive.

“Psychiatrists are trained to look beyond the diagnosis to explore wider and deeper factors important in a person’s life, to help aid their recovery in a holistic way, he added.”