The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society have come together to agree a common set of ideals and principles for how the two professions should approach conversations around mental health.

Dialogue between the two professions has been adversarial and even "bitter" at times, with many aspects of mental health and how best to respond to various scenarios contested.

Debate has been heated on various issues ranging from language, to processes, hierarchies, systems, safeguards, medication and formulation.

The advent of Twitter has exposed these debates to wider audiences in an eye-opening manner. At times it has felt educational and healthy, at other times less so.

The two representative bodies have now pledged, through a joint statement in The Lancet Psychiatry, to work to an agreed framework in an attempt to deliver progress based around four shared values:

1) Prevention is key

2) Eliminating stigma and discrimination

3) Encouraging research into the multiple cultural meanings of mental health

4) Service users to be offer genuine choice and empowerment

The statement

"Mental health is a complex issue: one in which we all have a stake. Much has been learned over the past few decades regarding the causes and best treatments in this area, but there is still a great deal more that can and should be done. Research into prevention and management is much needed to develop the evidence base for what works."

"The field of mental health has generated contested ideas and beliefs as well as polarisation, bitterness, and intransigence. That is why the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society have come together to affirm a common set of ideals and principles for how we, as professionals, discuss these topics. Our suggestions here are not intended to be prescriptive, nor are they the last word on the subject. How could they be? We hope, however, that they will provide much-needed common ground and the platform for us to create a future with better mental health for all."

"Our first principle is that prevention is key. The past decade has seen a resurgence of interest in underlying social and economic issues. We encourage mental health professionals and researchers to focus on joining up the current evidence to produce a robust, coherent picture that identifies clear points for early intervention."

"Second, we are committed to eliminating stigma and discrimination against service users and the field of mental health in general. Forging partnerships and learning from experts by experience, both individually and at an organisational level, can assist in tackling stigma and preconceptions."

"Third, we encourage researchers and mental health professionals to engage with the multiple cultural meanings of mental health, and ensure that this is taken into account when designing and delivering care. We agree that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach."

"Fourth, mental health service users should be offered genuine choice and empowerment. Research on types of treatment must deliver meaningful information for service users on what works. Results must be reported in a transparent way, regardless of outcome, to allow individuals to weigh up risks and benefits appropriately. And the involvement of experts by experience in research must become usual practice."

"Finally, the continuing drive towards community-based services must be accompanied by the highest standards of care. In all cases, mental health professionals should aim to provide care that is not coercive, but builds strong alliances and a therapeutic relationship with the client."

"Good debate is respectful and constructive. We applaud and encourage debate but this should take place in good faith, with conviction and good intentions. Transparency in terms of both method and conflict of interest is key."

"Without abandoning our commitment to rigorous evaluation of the evidence, we accept that research and practice are continually evolving. We acknowledge the limitations of our individual domains of knowledge, and actively seek out areas of overlap and complementarity. Above all, it is necessary that we recognise the complexity of mental health means that no single approach will provide all of the answers: to make progress, we need to cultivate multiple perspectives, and partnerships."

"We hope that readers will consider these principles carefully, and that together we can build a coalition of trust, goodwill, and an unwavering commitment to better mental health research and care in the UK and worldwide."
The statement has been made ahead of the much anticipated publication of recommended changes to the Mental Health Act on December 12, and parliamentary debates next year on the form of mental health content to be added to the national curriculum.