Will Self has launched a scathing attack on the pharmaceutical industry at a debate over mental health in Westminster.
Tempers flared at a debate last Wednesday as panellists argued whether psychiatrists and big pharmaceutical companies are to blame for the mental health crisis Britain is facing.
Novelist Will Self was an avid defender of the notion that too many ‘nocibos’ are prescribed – non-working drugs that only have negative side effects on suffers.
“A good brisk walk, a talk with a friend, or heroin, are all just as good for alleviating depression,” he said.
In an emotional outburst he described trying to take his own life, the consequence of an adverse reaction to a drug given to him to treat his schizophrenia.
After going back to see his doctor he left the surgery with what he describes as a bag full of ‘even more’ pills. “That is when I thought, enough is enough,” Mr Self recalled.
The panel descended into a fiery dispute as supporters and opponents of the motion lost their cool and shouted over one another, sharing emotional personal experiences and launching personal attacks.
Dr Declan Doogan, former Head of Worldwide Development at Pfizer Inc. and current CEO of Portage Biotech, defended doctors’ approach of prescribing drugs before psychotherapy by arguing that the system could not afford psychotherapy for every patient.
“Like it or not, we are in a commercial world,” he said.
Mr Self’s sentiments echoed feeling among campaigners that the mental health crisis isn’t being appropriately addressed.
“They are people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing,” he said.
Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb has called for more investment in mental health treatment as one in four people in the UK affected by mental illness.
He said: “A significant amount of that needs to go on improving mental health services, especially for children and young people. For too long mental health has been seen as a second class issue in the NHS.”
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