Thoughts of a senior Scottish Psychiatrist

Every October, as one of the promised actions of the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy a report is published by ISD Scotland on the prescribing of ‘Medicines used in the mental health’. The latest Report can be read in full here.

On the 27th October 2019, The Herald included an investigation based on these latest ISD figures.

A senior Scottish Psychiatrist, who has acted as an adviser to the Scottish Government on the prescribing of psychiatric drugs, has made this public comment about the latest 2019 ISD figures for Scotland:

Dr David Christmas: “Total cumulative increases in people receiving a prescription for certain groups of drugs between 2009/10 and 2018/19: Antidepressants (58.1%); Drugs used in dementia (111.2%); Drugs used for ADHD (107.0%). Yet the story is always about antidepressants . . .”

This Psychiatrist and Adviser to Government was one of the five authors of this 2014 Scottish Government report which has been regularly cited by Scottish Government Ministers when giving evidence in the Scottish Parliament:

This senior adviser to the Scottish Government, stated in April 2017 to a Cross-Party-Group on Mental Health that “depression is under-recognised across all age groups” and that “there is good evidence that long-term antidepressant treatment has a good risk-benefit ratio.” I was in attendance at this Cross-Party Meeting and felt that I had to openly question these emphatic statements.

The reply given by Dr Christmas (a fellow Scottish Psychiatrist who I had briefly met once prior to this meeting) was that “Peter does not accept the evidence that other professionals follow”. The Convener of the Cross Party Group, an MSP, appeared to smirk at this. Feeling ridiculed I quietly walked out of the meeting before its conclusion.

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