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Gaping holes in mental health research

More than a century after Nellie Bly, an intrepid New York reporter, got herself committed to Blackwell’s Island asylum to expose abuse in the city’s mental health institutions, the treatment of those with psychiatric problems remains a blot on society.

A report by the Swedish Research Council published this month revealed that the country has “major knowledge gaps” in forensic psychiatry—the area of medicine that tackles mental health disorders among people who are in breach of the law.

More research needs to be done in areas including rehabilitation, in-house care, pharmacological treatment, substance abuse treatment and violent behaviour, the report said. There is also a lack of coordination between research efforts both within Sweden and internationally. “The research field lacks any overarching coordination,” the report said. “Forensic psychiatry research is to a high degree nationally characterised, as different countries’ legal systems and legislation define what is involved.”

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