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Not a NICE situation!

It is sadly the case that the UK mental health sector is paradoxical.

On the one hand, we’ve blazed a trail in evidence-based health & social care since 1999. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)* is an international role model for the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines so that mental & physical health care is at the very least, empirically sound. Hurray! Clinical Excellence 1, Unprofessional Standards 0.

On the other hand, these guidelines haven’t actually translated into higher standards or more uniformity of care within the unregulated, inconsistent, multifarious sector that is the UK mental health care system. Clinical Excellence 0, Unprofessional Standards 1.

The reasons why this is the case are essentially simple: the users of the mental health care system don’t read the NICE guidelines and many of the professionals delivering the treatment don’t adhere to them.

The first issue is understandable. Why would distressed people with mental health issues trawl through tedious clinical protocols when they are at their most vulnerable? They are unlikely to know that such guidelines exist.