The authors examine different approaches in studying the effects of psychiatric drugs on patients and the use of medications by mental health services. Nowadays, in Italy, the current and diffuse administration of psychiatric drugs goes now together, in the field of research, with rising doubts about the effectiveness of psychiatric medications, and about the relationship between drugs’ mechanisms of action and psychiatric disorder’s etiologic mechanisms. The option of less medication and of a more personalized use of psychiatric drugs is now a topic of research, that meets the need for a more cognisant use of drugs by psychiatrist and patient. Psychosocial interventions for improving self-management and drug non-adherence are seldom offered by mental health services. Users thus self organise themselves to improve medication non-adherence. Despite growing empirical evidence on the doubts about the effects of psychiatric drugs, medications remain critical for treating severe mental illnesses, for a number of reasons, including drug effectiveness on major aspects of psychiatric disorders. Academic teaching focuses on the competence in associating drugs with symptoms, and might not include the expertise in designing complex and integrated treatment plans, an essential competence mental health professionals should acquire. The authors finally suggest that researchers and mental health professionals should take account of psychiatric users’ requests and also of the doubts about traditional psychiatric tools.
Keywords: Research, use of psychiatric drugs, mental health services