Science Plays Now. Long Game. But

At the very least, I was hoping for research that might aid those in need. As a result, the science underlying mental health care didn’t move in a straight line during my time in the position.

Many notable findings have been made in the study of brain injury patients who appear to be unresponsive; the first convincing concept of schizophrenia’s origin has been proposed based on a study of brain biology.

Access to Therapies Increased Significantly.

Science Plays Now. Long Game. But

As a counterbalance, the advancement of science did little to help the countless numbers of people who suffer from chronic mental illness. Rates of suicide, anxiety, sadness and psychiatric prescription use all went in the wrong direction even while access to therapies increased significantly.

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What’s going on here? I have a few opinions and some ideas about what could be required to turn things around after 20 years of reporting on the subject.

To put it another way: The federal government is doubling down in its efforts to identify biological signatures or “blood tests” for mental health diagnoses that could one day be beneficial, all while people in crisis are being put in harm’s way because of their mental health issues.

… The outcomes of these kinds of large-scale scientific endeavours are laudable, but the payoffs are extremely unpredictable. “Big-money brain research” was coined by late psychologist and sceptic Scott Lilienfeld, who coined his own nomenclature for such endeavours. They were either fishing trips or Hail Marys, he would tell me. ‘You have a choice.’ If you’re in danger of drowning, you’re more concerned with a life preserver than you are with the genetics of respiration.

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Last Words

If the sciences of behaviour and brain research are to become more important in people’s lives, how might they begin to do so?

Some famous scientists who are aware of the need will have to speak more openly about the influence of money on research goals.

For their part, funders must pay attention and maybe finance more small teams striving to develop the psychological equivalent of a life preserver: treatments, supports, and technologies that could be adopted soon.

Binge drinking, gambling, and overeating are all popular ways for people to self-medicate since the effects are predictable.

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