Thomas Insel, the “psychiatrist of the nation”, takes stock, with frustration

The country’s mental health crisis is “not a research problem, it’s an implementation problem”, he said. Good treatments for serious ill...

The country’s mental health crisis is “not a research problem, it’s an implementation problem”, he said. Good treatments for serious illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder already exist, he said, and it’s not the job of NIMH scientists to provide services.

“It has nothing to do with what they do,” he said. “That’s asking for French food at an Italian restaurant.”

Still, his comments ruffled some feathers in the agency he headed.

In an interview, Dr. Gordon, the current director of the NIMH, said that Dr. Insel did not acknowledge “some truly wonderful things that have been done at the NIMH” during his tenure or “the wonderful work that we continue to do. do in research that had short-term impacts on mental health care.

He gave examples of two new treatments developed based on neurobiological research: ketamine for treatment-resistant depression and brexanolone for postpartum depression. He said the NIMH also funded studies that led to treatments used today, like a large-scale study that established the effectiveness of comprehensive services for people experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

As for big breakthroughs, he said, they take decades to achieve. Dr. Gordon was at university when scientists cloned the gene for Huntington’s disease, and only now, three decades later, has that work led to effective new treatments. To consider breakthrough treatments in the short term, he said, was “bravado”.

Definitive treatments for autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia based on genetics “are not likely to materialize in the next five or 10 years,” he said. But researchers have identified hundreds of relevant genes and are “beginning to understand the function of these genes in the context of the brain,” which he says could pave the way for better therapies.

“Would it be the same bravado? he said. “I don’t use a date.”

As for Dr. Insel, he now sees himself in a different role, much like Al Gore, who, after serving as a senator and vice president, has reinvented himself as a truth-teller on climate change.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Thomas Insel, the “psychiatrist of the nation”, takes stock, with frustration
Thomas Insel, the “psychiatrist of the nation”, takes stock, with frustration
Newsrust - US Top News
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