Mind and complementary medicines

I’m always looking for good sources of information to share with patients. Sometimes people share what they’ve found with me.

My criteria: well explained, fair, evidence based, updated, and clear about uncertainties.

And so I must report my unhappiness with the Mind website, in regard to complementary and alternative medicines; their website:

“complementary therapy is one that can be used in addition to, or alongside, conventional medicine. An alternative therapy claims to be a complete system, which can be used instead of orthodox medicine. Complementary and alternative approaches share a belief in the body’s ability to heal itself. Treatments are non-invasive, without unpleasant side effects, and the practitioner commits more time to the client than a GP is usually able to do.

Some people who have mental health problems choose to use complementary or alternative therapies. While we cannot endorse any of the therapies below, they have been shown to help in some cases.”

Well: I don’t use any CAM treatments, and I believe in the body’s ability to ‘heal itself’ – very often, time and support will work well to help with many symptoms. I hate the idea that only CAM practioners can offer something to people who  “prefer its holistic approach” – if I am interested in your work, your home life, your exercise quotient, your relationships, money worries, drug and alcohol use, and what you believe influences your wellbeing – what’s not holistic about that?

Elsewhere on the Mind website, the potential side effects, problems and ineffectiveness of many orthodox medicines such as SSRIs are discussed. This is absolutely fair enough – the lack of, or weak evidence, for many mainstream medical interventions is what I’ve been writing about for years. What is not fair enough is the assertion that because something is ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ it cannot be harmful – “Treatments are non-invasive, without unpleasant side effects. The vast amount of money paid to people who make non evidence based promises is wrong; false hope is wrong, and teaching people to have a double set of standards – evidence based decisions about orthodox treatments yet meek acceptance of the alternative – is wrong.

Please, Mind, be consistent about your use of evidence.


Thankyou, Mind – a very good revision as below. Many thanks for listening and acting.

What are the alternatives to ECT?

If the NICE guidelines are being followed, you will only be offered ECT (in most cases) if you have tried other treatments and found them unsuccessful, unhelpful or unacceptable.

The main treatments on offer for depression are usually antidepressants and/or talking treatments (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy, psychotherapy or counselling).

There are two treatments, which are still being researched, and are not widely available in the UK at the moment: TMS and VNS.

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