previous post), I don't have a problem with the term 'mental illness'. In a recent comment in The Lancet Psychiatry, Dinesh Bhugra et al make a case for what they call reclaiming the term. They suggest that psychiatrists have given up using the concept. Part of their argument is that "A large number of psychiatric disorders ... are ... socially elaborated states of pathology or disease, with neurophysiological or chemical alterations in brain or body functions". But are they brain dysfunctions? No evidence is offered to support this conjecture and, as I keep saying in this blog, such a belief is mere conjecture.
Actually, perhaps I do have a problem with the term 'mental illness' if this is what it is supposed to imply, although I don't think it necessarily does. Better to stick to terms that Dinesh et al tend not to like, such as 'mental health problems', which don't have this ideological implication.
I think Dinesh et al are right that mental illness does imply a major or more serious rather than minor mental health problem. Before the 2007 revision, the Mental Health Act (MHA) used the term 'mental illness', although it was never defined. This has now been replaced by the more generic term 'mental disorder'. In principle, people should only be detained under the MHA for mental health problems of a nature or degree that warrant this intervention and psychiatrists would have generally understood the term mental illness to mean functional psychosis. And, as I've said several times before (eg. see previous post), there may be potential advantages in seeing mental health problems as illness as it integrates the medical perspective. Illness can be mental and not purely physical. The problem with Dinesh at al's view is that they may appear to regard mental illness as physical in origin.