Public mental health and clinical psychiatry: Are they two separate worlds?
Stefan Priebe, unit for social and community psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London.
Public mental health focuses on health indicators and interventions on population level with an emphasis – although not exclusively–on prevention. In contrast, clinical psychiatry involves treatment of individuals in the setting of a health service and deals with people who usually already have a mental disorder. The theoretical background, the underpinning evidence and the practical approach of public mental health and clinical psychiatry differ from each other and concepts of one of the two cannot easily be transferred to the other.
Nevertheless, the presentation will argue that there are also links between the two. These links may be based on overall applicable values, a common understanding of mental disorders, and social models of overcoming mental distress. These links can have implications for how clinical psychiatrists are engaged in political and societal activities, get involved with local communities, and work in daily practice with their patients.
The public mental health perspective, used in a wide sense of the term, has played a substantial role in the historical development of psychiatry, including its major reforms, and might also open up how clinical psychiatry might be attractive as a career option and relevant as a profession in the future.
Disclosure of interest
The author has not supplied his declaration of competing interest.