Doctors often believe in the purely medical models of the mind, to them all illness; including mental illnesses can be overcome by prescribing medication. Patients too, are often looking for quick fixes and are willing to take medication instead of coming to terms with their underlying mental issues. Nowadays General Practitioners are prescribing psychotropic medication even to little children (Dean, Hendy and McGuire, 1999).
A child’s behavioral problems that in the past would be treated by a spanking or the child being sent to bed without supper are now treated with anti-depressants and Ritalin. The common complaint about General Practitioners handing out psychotropic medicines, like anti-depressants, as if they were handing out candy, is a complaint based on fact. Out of people who go to their primary health care physician complaining of mental problems, only five percent are ever referred to psychologists. Rural areas often have under-utilized psychologists and a scarcity of Psychiatrists (DeLeon, Sammons and Sexton, 1995).
According to researchers, having psychologists involved in the care of patients with mental problems leads to better results than the prescription of psychotropic drugs by general practitioners (Pollin and DeLeon,1996). The strategy of having primary care physicians prescribe anti-depressants for the treatment of depression has generally proved to be a failure (Wiggins, 2000).
Psychologists on the other hand are more adept at talk therapy, which is their primary method of treatment. If psychologists are given the authority to prescribe drugs, it is more likely that they will only prescribe these drugs once they have tried out non-medicating methods of alleviating the patient’s condition. Studies have found that therapy is better than medication in a variety of mind related illnesses, including illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (Kraft and Kraft). Allowing Psychologists to prescribe drugs will therefore reduce the over prescription of psychotropic medication.
Another problem with the prescription of psychotropic drugs is the problem of low-adherence to the prescription. People with mental health problems often fail to take their medications, or take them at the wrong times or at wrong doses. As we have noted earlier, these people are most often prescribed their medication by overworked general practitioners. These General Practitioners do not have the time form a bond with the patients and convince them to follow through on their prescriptions. Psychologists on the other hand see their patients for long sessions of talk therapy. Thus Psychologists are better able to convince their patients to keep taking their medicine and to supervise their adherence to the prescription schedule.
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