A Light in the Darkness: UK Doctor's Body No Longer Classifies ME/CFS as Mental Health Disorder!

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Yes, until today, the professional governing body for doctors in the U.K. - the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP) classified chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) as a "mental health disorder"

The RCGP has over 50,000 members and represents UK doctors on issues like clinical standards, research licensing and provides doctors with training, professional development and other subjects. It's clearly a key player in British medical circles.

[fright]
Shocked-man.jpg
[/fright]As the ME Association had pointed out, besides the frustration and anger patients must feel at being wrongly portrayed, the designation had real-life consequences.


I am sure you must appreciate the problems that are being caused to people with ME/CFS, including ones involving denial of benefits and insurance cover/payments, and the failure to obtain or continue with employment, when their illness is inaccurately classified by a doctor as being a mental health disorder – as the RCGP is clearly doing in this training document. This can obviously result in considerable financial loss and we are aware of people taking legal action as a result of inaccurate classification of their illness.
The ME Association tried unsuccessfully before to change the designation. The problem apparently cropped up when it was noticed that the RCGP put chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in the "Care of People with Mental Health Problems." booklet.

When asked why they'd decided to list ME/CFS as a mental health disorder, the RCGP gave a very revealing answer; it was not because it was a mental health disorder, but because in the U.K. when people are treated for ME/CFS they often end up in a psychologists offices!

The group that developed the curriculum were aware of the difficulties of assigning this condition to a specific grouping and eventually elected to include it within the statement on ‘Care of People with Mental Health Problems’. It was a difficult decision but it was taken largely on the grounds that many specialist services are currently configured and based in, or are linked to, psychology services. No assumptions should be drawn from this about the college’s views on causality.
The ME Association rightly replied

..It makes no sense whatsoever to claim that you can classify an illness as a mental health disorder simply because some patients are being seen in departments of psychiatry or psychology within the NHS.
Now the RGCP has decided ME/CFS is not a mental health disorder. What it is they don't know and don't care to speculate. The ME Association provided the following letter:

Dear Dr Shepherd

I am pleased to inform you that the Curriculum Development Group and Postgraduate Training Board have now debated the views expressed about the reference to CFS/ME in the Mental Health statement and have agreed to remove the reference from the statement. It was not felt necessary to insert a specific reference to CFS/ME elsewhere in the curriculum, eg under Neurological Problems, because the curriculum takes a largely generic approach and does not specify every possible condition.

We remain happy to have a meeting with you and I am sorry that it has taken so long to arrange this.

Yours sincerely
Ruth Palmer

Director, Professional Development & Standards
The UK continues to amaze!
 

Tony L

Active Member
I live in a country where there is no professional development for medics in relation to ME and hence generally appalling standards of treatment for patients suffering from ME. Yes the UK.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
I had no idea that ME/CFS was classified as a mental health disorder. That was a shocker. Kudo's to the ME Association for their work.
I live in a country where there is no professional development for medics in relation to ME and hence generally appalling standards of treatment for patients suffering from ME. Yes the UK.
 

San Diego

Well-Known Member
It was not felt necessary to insert a specific reference to CFS/ME elsewhere in the curriculum, eg under Neurological Problems, because the curriculum takes a largely generic approach and does not specify every possible condition.
.... yet they had no problem forgoing their “generic approach” when they stuck ME/CFS in the psych category.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Is this from 2008?
? I was just given a link to it this morning - There wasn't a date on the ME Association's post...Please let me know so that I can take it down!
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
From 2008 I think
Thanks so much. (How embarrassing!) As I said someone emailed me this information so I thought it was current and I couldn't find a date on the ME website but it is indeed from 2008 and I deleted all the Facebook posts I made - that I could find anyway.
 

San Diego

Well-Known Member
Thanks so much. (How embarrassing!) As I said someone emailed me this information so I thought it was current and I couldn't find a date on the ME website but it is indeed from 2008 and I deleted all the Facebook posts I made - that I could find anyway.
Fortunately, your core audience is a group with memory issues. I find myself reading a post, thinking, “Wow, this person is right on the money!” only to realize it’s something I wrote but can’t remember! So you can post all day about things from 2008 and I’ll think it’s all new and amazing. :D
 

Arison

Member
Don't you worry about it. I thought it may be tied in with the pulse learning thing which it still could be...they're training GP's that ME is MH.
 

tandrsc

Well-Known Member
This is the ME Association's latest challenge to the Pulse learning module. Very similar, but not such a good result.

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/2016/08/me-association-challenges-pulse-learnings-classification-of-mecfs-as-a-mental-health-disorder-21-august-2015/

From Pulse Aug 2016
22 August
Hi Dr Shepherd,
Thanks for your email about the CFS module. I have added a neurology category to the module, but have kept the mental health tagging on it as well, so it will now sit in both specialties.
Kind regards,
David
Reply from ME Association Aug 2016
23 August
Dear Dr Swan
Thank you for relocating this module into neurology.
However, it should NOT be in mental health at the same time and should therefore be removed from this mental health tagging as well.
I will have a look at the complete module later in the week because, as I’m sure you are aware, the are major concerns in the patient community about:
1 the length of time it takes for a diagnosis of ME/CFS to be made – hence our 2016 campaign on early and accurate diagnosis:
2 misdiagnosis
3 harmful or inappropriate advice on management
4 lack of NHS referral services in many parts of the UK – they are almost non existent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and the Isle of Man)
5 the appalling situation regarding the lack of practical support along with the medical neglect of many people who are severely affected by ME/CFS
These are all important issues relating to primary care that PULSE magazine might like to pursue?
Regards
Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, MEA
It looks as though the ME Association will continue to pursue it.
 

Tony L

Active Member
Don't worry Cort you have succeeded in highlighting that 8 years later UK medics are still stuck in the same position, left to make up their own minds about where to put ME and seemingly not bothered at all about the effect on sufferers of inappropriate services.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Fortunately, your core audience is a group with memory issues. I find myself reading a post, thinking, “Wow, this person is right on the money!” only to realize it’s something I wrote but can’t remember! So you can post all day about things from 2008 and I’ll think it’s all new and amazing. :D
;)

I read this interesting blog some time ago and thought that was a well-written blog! and looked up and saw that I wrote it! :banghead:
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Don't worry Cort you have succeeded in highlighting that 8 years later UK medics are still stuck in the same position, left to make up their own minds about where to put ME and seemingly not bothered at all about the effect on sufferers of inappropriate services.
Right - still no place for ME/CFS I guess...jeez.....
 

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