Support 100 years of independent journalism.

The psychiatrists who don’t believe in mental illness – Audio Long Reads

As rates of diagnosis rise, a fierce debate rages in psychiatry. Are we experiencing a parallel pandemic or responding rationally to a traumatic world?

By Sophie McBain

In the wake of the pandemic, mental health referrals for adults and children have doubled. Has Covid sparked a parallel wave of mental illness? Or is grief and sadness a natural response to those months of isolation, uncertainty and daily death tolls? 

In this richly reported long read, New Statesman associate editor and feature writer Sophie McBain talks to the patients and medical professionals who believe we over-diagnose mental illness, ascribing labels and medication that do not help. A movement within psychiatry – known as critical psychiatry – rejects the idea of mental illness altogether. Such arguments are now at the heart of what has become a bitter culture war in the UK and US, between those who would abandon psychiatry’s “disease” model and those who insist it saves lives. 

The article was first published on newstatesman.com on 9 February 2022 and in the magazine on 11 February 2022. You can read the text version here.

Written and read by Sophie McBain

Podcast listeners can subscribe to the New Statesman for just £1 a week for 12 weeks using our special offer. Just visit newstatesman.com/podcastoffer.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

How to listen to Audio Long Reads

1. In podcast apps

Audio Long Reads is available to listen on all major podcast players, including Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsYouTube and more.

Either click the links above to open in your preferred player, or open the podcast app on your device and search for “Audio Long Reads”.

Follow or subscribe in your podcast app to receive new episodes as soon as they publish.

2. On the New Statesman website

The podcast is also available to listen right here on the New Statesman website. Bookmark https://www.newstatesman.com/podcasts/audio-long-reads, where we will publish new episodes every Saturday morning.

3. On your smart speaker

If you have an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod, ask it to “play the latest episode of Audio Long Reads from the New Statesman”.

The command will also work on other smart devices equipped with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up