Whilst Mental Health Today's most-read pieces of 2019 cover a range of topics it's apparent that readers are particularly interested in independent, trauma-informed takes that progress discussions surrounding mental health support.

Here are the top 10 articles of last year...


1. The inside story of how IAPT ate itself

Research has found that NHS staff are increasingly reporting experiences of depression related to working in an overstretched system. Philip K. Marzouk, a former counsellor, examines research looking at staff wellbeing within the NHS' programme to make psychological therapy more accessible. 

"The idea of a competent practitioner being somebody who’s invulnerable is a myth".

2. An introduction to the classification of mental disorders: the DSM and the ICD

Chloe Apter, Mental Health Today's Editorial Assistant, unpicks the knotty history of psychiatric diagnosis to show how symptoms like "the uncontrollable impulse to dance" evolved into the diagnostic manuals we use today. 

"From the Latin term “insania” for insanity to the use of “mania” and "melancholia" in Greek to denote a chaotic frenzy and depression, there has been a rich vocabulary used to discuss mental illness since ancient times".

3. Denying the traumatic origin of Dissociative Identity Disorder denies those who live with it a recovery

For many people who live with traumagenic disorders, an acknowledgement of their symptom's origin is integral to recovery. Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Chloe Apter makes the case for why dissociated parts or "alters" need to have their voice heard in order to begin to heal from trauma. 

"My disorder allows me to keep secrets from myself and from others - I can't tell others about what I don't know. And so, recovery relies upon reversing the code of secrecy through acknowledging the disorder’s traumatic origin".

4. "No one should be shamed for trying to understand what is affecting them": A defence of self-diagnosis

All too often we see self-diagnosis dismissed as being necessarily invalid. Whilst highlighting that self-diagnosis is not a substitute for a professional opinion Chloe Wilkinson, former host of the DissociaDID System, defends it as being a way for people with limited access to support to make sense of their experiences.

"If what you are experiencing is disrupting your life, it's only natural to seek explanations".

5. It's not "just a film": the damaging effects of misrepresenting Dissociative Identity Disorder

Jessica, diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, writes for Mental Health Today about why inaccurate portrayals of mental illness are not only offensive but also potentially life-altering.

"If people want to know where the real monsters are - it’s the ones that caused this disorder in the first place".

6. The benefits of social prescribing - and a word of warning

Socialisation is increasingly being prescribed by healthcare professionals as a solution to loneliness and poor mental health. Mental Health Today's Editorial Assistant Chloe Apter argues that social prescribing is not a substitute for psychological therapy and that it undermines the complexity of mental illness.

"And what happens if a patient, failing to reap benefits from social prescribing, stops attending the group? Are they labelled as uncooperative? Difficult? Or perhaps they become disillusioned with mental health and social care services, becoming even more isolated".

7. Treating anorexia: an alternative to prolonged hospitalisation

Describing many inpatient wards for eating disorders as “universities of bad behaviours”, Paul Robinson illuminates an approach to treatment that rejects restricting access based on body mass index and focuses on a holistic, personalised model. 

"Inpatient hospitalisation for an eating disorder is most often a late stage and emergency care treatment that focuses on addressing the immediate physical symptoms rather than the underlying issues and trauma at the root of the disorder".

8. Mental health education in schools - what's not to like?

Written in response to the government's draft plans for the mental health curriculum, psychologist and lecturer Anne Cooke highlights the importance of encouraging critical analysis in the classroom when discussing how we understand distress.

"The problem is: mental health is a contested area. Scientists and clinicians don’t agree about what the ‘facts’ are, or about what is ‘appropriate’".

9. Is school "refusal" really refusal? 

Parents have a duty to ensure that their children attend education. Fran Morgan, founder of a parent-led organisation that empowers those affected by school non-attendance, reconceptualises school "refusal" as a response to a rigid education system that fails neurodiverse children. 

"Our education system is turning into a "sausage factory" for neurotypical children – in one end, out the other".

10. Schizophrenia's 'genetic test'- patients who may be hearing voices could be misled under new plans

Influential psychiatrists have called on the NHS to make a faux schizophrenia test available to patients and their families. The condition has never been demonstrated to be genetic, writes Mental Health Today's Editor Barney Cullum, but it’s proving inconvenient to claim otherwise. 

"Schizophrenia has long been considered by BAME campaigners to be the 'most racialised' mental illness".