Palliative care concept for late mental illness

While it may generate headlines and get people to prick up their ears, the phrase “palliative psychiatry” does not have the most positive connotations, admits Professor Michael Berk. 

He is the lead author of a review paper that promotes a ‘palliative care’ approach in patients with late stages of mental illnesses who have failed to respond to other treatments.

In the paper, the authors take great pains to define the term ‘palliative’. Instead of seeking to cure, reverse or delay the progression of advanced mental illnesses, they say the focus should shift to improving quality of life and reducing symptoms (or improving the ability to adapt when symptoms do persist). 

Professor Berk and his co-authors spend significant space discussing the potential benefits of ‘third wave psychotherapies’ such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which has been found to be effective in individuals with