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Let children cry

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In reply: Doctors have a duty to relieve suffering, but with qualifications: the target is overall, not immediate, suffering; and the primary injunction is to do no harm.

McGorry and colleagues would presumably agree that interfering with healthy mourning does more harm than good, even if it lessens immediate suffering. Where we disagree is that I have faith in families’ own resources to deal with a broader range of distress, while McGorry and colleagues claim there are benefits from pre-emptively attracting distressed individuals into the mental health system. Evidence needs to be provided to support the idea that medical intervention does more good than harm for less than severe impairment. Too often, selective or exaggerated evidence is offered.1

While it is true that the majority of headspace clients at one site received interventions other than psychotropic medication,2 nevertheless, 20% (168/858) of those who fell short of threshold diagnosis were medicated. De-identified headspace data should be made accessible to allow independent research groups to analyse headspace‘s impact on disability and functioning.

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