I found the article by Rebecca Lawrence (Opinion, 14 July) – in which she highlights a conceptual and practical distinction between “mental illness” and “mental health” – interesting, in that the focus on wellbeing can deny the harsh reality of mental illness. It was also good to read a piece by a psychiatrist who did not reduce mental illness to the never scientifically proven chemical imbalance theory, and who highlighted the complexity of mental illness and the importance of not “medicalising life’s difficulties”.
However, I was left curious about her understanding of this complexity, as what was implicit in her article was that it should still largely be understood as a brain-based individual phenomenon. Such an individualistic understanding is out of line with the international recognition of the social determinants of mental illness as promoted by bodies such as the World Health Organization, the UN and also indeed by her own professional body, the Royal College of Psychiatry.
Dr Pete Ord
Clinical psychologist, Watford, Hertfordshire
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