Nutty Experts On The Growing Nut Problem

This article in the Winnipeg Free Press about mental illness in Manitoba Canada, Mental illness reaching ‘epidemic’ level, illustrates some of the confusions in professional perspectives on the problem.

First the dilemma…

New data obtained from a freedom-of-information request shows 173,496 Manitobans were diagnosed with a mental illness in 2010, up from 111,544 in 1995 — a 56 per cent increase.

Then the reaction…

“I don’t think things have really changed in terms of percentages,” said Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman, president-elect of the Psychological Association of Manitoba. “What these numbers reflect is awareness of the problem.”

Oddly enough these idiot doctors say the problem is not that there is more “mental illness” out there per se, it‘s simply that more of the people with “mentally illness” that were out there all long are coming forward and seeking treatment now.

How convenient when it comes to their own professions to have such an explanation. How inconvenient when it comes to controlling any epidemic, or actually pandemic, as this thing is spreading across many continents.

“We need to address mental health as a problem,” Abdulrehman said. He said it’s time to treat mental health just as seriously as physical health. “If this were a physical health problem, it would be considered an epidemic,” he said.

Translation: “Throw dollar bills this way.”

Then why are you not considering these mental health problems epidemic? This is a ploy for increasing spending, not for controlling the frequency with which people report “disease”.

If it was a physical health problem, thought to be epidemic, doctors would not be saying that it was there all along. Epidemics occur when diseases are prevalent among large numbers of people. Epidemics are not things we should be expected to live with as a rule. Question, what is different about an ‘epidemic’ of ‘mental illness‘? If more people are to come forward to seek treatment, are these more people supposed to reflect a problem that was always around. In other words, if the epidemic grows, is this growth not really growth, but simply a growing recognition of the problem that was there all along.

It’s kind of absurd to use this epidemic ploy, as they are doing in this article and many others, to increase mental health spending, and ironically, feed the epidemic (pandemic) they would be bringing to our attention. As I have indicated time and time again, the problem is not how do you get more people INTO the mental health system, that’s easy, the problem is how do you get more people OUT of the mental health system.

Now there you are, doctor. Focus, please. Can you deliver?

Investing In Mental Health Rather Than In “Mental Illness”

Reading about what we call “mental illness” from conventional sources is very boring, and no wonder, it’s all the same old tired clichés repeated over and over again. You can talk about one size not fitting all until you‘re blue in the face, but when it comes down to it, we’ve got one size, and we’re trying to make it fit everybody. This size is the prevailing theory and the baggage it, not troubled lives themselves, represents. If you can throw the textbook out the window, then a lot of those troubles, not lives, are going to go with it.

A lot of things have changed in mental health services in the last thirty years or so. Things have gotten much worse. Thirty years ago non-recovery wasn’t the forgone conclusion that it is today. Thirty years ago treatment teams weren’t hounding people deemed in need of intensive care everywhere they went trying to make sure they stayed on their harmful psychiatric drugs. Thirty years ago nobody was ordered into forced treatment outside of a state hospital. Thirty years ago people in mental health treatment were only dying 10 to 15 years younger on average than the rest of the society, now they’re dying at an age 25 years younger. Thirty years ago doctors were less likely to give people powerful drugs for purposes that had not been approved by the FDA. Thirty years ago fewer people labeled “mentally ill” doubled as career mental health workers.

The disability field is a mixed bag, truly. Now I have issues with people labeled “mentally ill” who become “stake holders” in their area’s mental health system. I’m not a “stake holder”. I was involuntarily committed on numerous occasions, I want absolutely no part in a system based upon the deprivation of personal freedoms. Many of the people in the community mental health system got there through the state hospital psychiatric imprisonment system. I’m not one to invest in the deprivation of personal liberties, especially where I am the person being deprived of liberty. I am not an advocate for the kind of dependence that comes of crippling and life disrupting mistreatment. I’d like to see resilience and self-reliance become more of the rule in the mental health care world than they are today.

Becoming a turn-coat and traitor was never my chief aim in life. I’d rather cling to my loyalties. One of those loyalties is to the psychiatrically oppressed and mistreated. I don’t want to have a stake in oppression and mistreatment. I had rather have a stake in the liberation of people from psychiatric oppression and mistreatment. This is where our psychiatric survivor movement began, and it’s where I remain. I’m an advocate for working outside of the system; I’m not an advocate of, and for, working within the system.

I’m not against sitting at the table. I know a university hospital emergency room that sees 2500 people a year for psychiatric issues. Many of these people end up on the psych unit of this university hospital. Some of those people in turn end up being sent to the state hospital for imprisonment mistreatment. If this locality had a crisis respite center, a number of the people presently being sent to the state hospital wouldn’t have to go there because we’d have an operational and preventative alternative to that hospital. There are only a few of these crisis respite centers in the entire country right now. They save reputations, they save lives, and they save money. We should have them everywhere.

Another study shows rise in the mental disorder rate

Here’s an article from The Montreal Gazette with the heading, Mental health issues on the rise.

Some studies are counterintuitive, case in point…

Mental health issues need to stop being society’s dirty little secret – particularly in the current unstable economic conditions, which are contributing to the problem in the workplace, according to a recent report that says our failure to deal with them is a drag on productivity.

A big part of the problem is the extent to which “mental health issues” are NOT society’s dirty little secret! “Mental health issues” are big business, and therefore the “mental health issue” rate grows by leaps and bounds. You’re not just talking about a loss to business; you’re talking about a gain of business, too. There is the health field, and the pharmacological field to think of, not to mention the judicial.

The report from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says one in five workers is struggling to cope with some form of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, which affects productivity and well-being in the workplace.

The fact that workplace conditions and quality of life issues have an affect on emotional stability was not mentioned in this article.

The report says the employment rate of people with a mental disorder is 55 per cent to 70 per cent, which is 10 per cent to 15 per cent lower than the rate for those without a mental disorder.

We just made a leap from loss of productivity to lack of a job. I suggest that the manipulations of big corporations and markets has a heck of a lot more to do with our excessive unemployment rate than somebody is letting on. I’d also like to point out that it doesn’t take much more than joblessness to get a person labeled “mentally ill”.

The issue I take with many studies of this sort is that, as well intentioned as they may be, their overall effect is to increase the problem they were designed to remedy. It’s not just our “failure to deal with” “mental health issues” that is the problem. It is also our selling of “mental illness” itself that contributes greatly to the problem. Although theory has it “mental conditions” are primarily “biological” in nature, the rapid increase in the psychiatric disability rate–it is at a much higher rate than the rate of population increase–would tend to dispute this explanation.

Choice On The Agenda In Australian Psych Wards

A story in The Sydney Morning Herald sports the headline, Patients want more choice, says mental health survey.

The largest EVER survey of Australian mental health service users indicates that they want more choice. 3500 psychiatric prisoners and service users took the survey intended to be used as feedback for reform.

The Action and Change in NSW Mental Health Services report found 57 per cent of hospital inpatients found it difficult to see a doctor when they felt they needed to and 55 per cent said they did not have enough choice about their treatment.

80 % of those in community care felt their privacy was sufficiently protected and that they were treated with respect.

This survey was a part of a program that is aimed at instituting change.

Changes in response to patient complaints included increasing doctors’ rounds, providing patients with more information on their rights and notepads to record it, and increasing carer involvement, the report said.

More than 100 service providers utilized the survey with 49 % implementing changes.

I hope this is the start of some action to stir things up a little in the mental health system in Australia. The problem with patient rights is that they often involve human rights violations. It is mental health law itself that separates the mental patients from the rest of society (i.e. first class citizenry) through state sanctioned assault and deprivation of liberty. Perhaps Australian mental health service users will be able to detect this discrepancy and implement more fundamental changes in the future.

Ending an epidemic means reversing the damage

More than 1 in 10 people in the USA are reported to be on antidepressants at this time. 1 in 5 people are reported to be on psychiatric drugs. When these people are women, fully 1 in 4 of them are reported to be on psychiatric drugs. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disability by the year 2020. This is incredible from my perspective. So many people with nothing physical wrong with them are claiming to have a “mental” ailment. The predominate delusion of mainstream psychiatry, at this time, is that there is something physically wrong with them.

The rate of “mental illness” labeling in the USA is so high because the selling of psychiatric drugs and mental health treatment is so pervasive. The thing that separates patients from non-patients is treatment with psychiatric drugs. This treatment comes with a flooding of pro-treatment propaganda. When people are convinced that they are wanting, or ill, then they become patients. Before people are convinced, they are resistant and doubtful with regard to the need, and therefore they must be persuaded. What we have at this time is not a need for more convincing but, rather, a need for more unconvincing.

“Mental illness” labeling has reached epidemic proportions. How could it be otherwise when mental health screening programs are aggressively pursuing more candidates for treatment? How could it be otherwise when mental health professionals claim that “stigma” is preventing people from seeking treatment? How could it be otherwise when mental health treatment is seen as the solution to a media generated fear of  multiple murderers? How could it be otherwise when drug companies inundate magazines, television shows, and internet websites with advertisements for their products?

Focus on the epidemic, ironically enough, doesn’t seem to come from people who want to stem the epidemic. Focus on the epidemic comes from people seeking to raise funds for mental health programs with varying degrees of ineffectiveness. These people are often people who have a stake in raising funds for mental health programs, either as mental health professionals or as family members of dependent patients. In theory these programs are doing something about the problem, our epidemic. In reality many of these programs are feeding the very epidemic they would claim to be countering.

Mental health professionals tend to be very efficient at getting people into treatment. Mental health professionals tend to be very inefficient at getting people out of treatment. ½ of all people labeled with lifelong “mental illness” were labeled by the age of 14 years. Chronicity, or lifelong “mental illness” labeling, is what you get when people go into treatment and don’t come out of treatment–alive. These people don’t come out of treatment alive because of the crippling dependency that it breeds and fosters.

Until this failure to recover people from dependency is addressed, and corrected, the “mental illness” labeling rate will continue to rise unabated. How can it do otherwise? What we call “mental illness” is in actuality the development of a dependency on the mental health system. We’ve got a system that removes people from working situations, and that never returns them to working situations. These people are marginalized and disempowered by the very system that claims to be “helping” them. When the mental health system starts to spend a fraction of the time and energy it spends on acquiring patients, its “consumer” base, on graduating contributing members of society, only then will we have a chance to make a dent on this epidemic in disability.

The World Health Organization Launches Quality Rights Project

In honor of Human Rights Day, December 10th, the World Health Organization is launching a Quality Rights project. Voice of America reported on the matter in a story bearing the headline, WHO: Poor Treatment of Mentally Ill Violates Their Human Rights.

The World Health Organization calls the abusive conditions endured by people with mental health conditions a hidden human rights emergency. WHO reports that all over the world people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are subject to a wide range of human rights violations, stigma and discrimination.

Just to clarify, when we speak of human rights violations we are speaking of treating people like animals or worse.

As Michelle Funk, the WHO Policy Coordinator, puts it.

For example, people can be overmedicated to keep them docile and easy to manage,” she said. “They can be locked in cells or restrained for days and months without food and water, without any human contact and leaving people to urinate and defecate in the very places where they are sleeping. And, what makes these abuses even more shocking is that they are happening at the very hands of the health workers who are meant to provide care, treatment and support.”

The situation where such human rights abuses are taking place is not a good one, and where it can easily be ignored, it’s not getting any better.

She says several countries already are implementing these programs. They include Spain, Panama and Greece and India.

She didn’t say anything about where the USA, the UK, and Australia stand on this matter, at least, not in this article anyway. It is up to the citizens of these countries to put human rights concerns back in the forefront of policy decisions and considerations where they belong. They can do so by encouraging their local representatives to implement Quality Rights programs in their home communities.

Racism Disguised As Science

As if things weren’t absurd enough as is, immigration to the USA from Mexico puts one at risk for conduct disorder according to an article in MedPage Today. The article in question bears the headline, Move from Mexico to U.S. Tied to Conduct Disorder.

I’d call this sort of discriminatory psychiatric labeling racial profiling, but the researchers don‘t seem to give it a second thought.

The good news is, well, Mexicans tend to be non-aggressive types rather than aggressive types according to this study.

The relationship between immigration status and conduct disorder was stronger for nonaggressive symptoms — such as running away from home and frequent lying — than for aggressive symptoms — such as fighting and cruelty to animals, the researchers reported in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

These researchers have gotten the idea that it’s mostly genetic with a little bit of environmental influence thrown in there for good measure.

No wonder Mexicans are being stopped at the border!

Rates of conduct disorder symptoms overall ranged from 0.1% for forced sex to 12.8% for truancy. Three or more symptoms occurred in 11.5% of the participants; 2% met criteria for conduct disorder.

“Not alarmingly defective genes, huh? All the same, a cause for concern”, says the inner cop I consulted.

The rate of conduct disorder increased significantly as the connection to the U.S. strengthened — 0.9% for nonmigrant families, 1.6% for Mexicans in migrant families, 6.9% for offspring raised in the U.S. by Mexican-born parents, and 11.5% for offspring raised in the U.S. by U.S.-born parents of Mexican descent (P<0.001).

Apparently Mexican Americans are much more at risk than mere Mexicans. How convenient for the border patrols trying to prevent a tidal wave of illegals from turning the USA into outer Juarez.

Shrink researchers are really on the ball in this matter. They are busy looking for the conduct disorder gene that turns so many migrants into banditos as well as for the environmental factors that makes the USA toxic to certain Mexicans.

Ummm, next question. When are these shrink researchers going to look into the genes of Arabs? They’re out to bomb us to kingdom come, right, so there must be a lot going on there, too, don’t you think?

Wallowing In The Mess Age

Things used to be much simpler before the economic bubble burst, and we developed this homeless problem we’ve got today. I continually find myself amused by stories arising from this situation, like the following one from the Detroit Free Press, Man helps the mentally ill in Grand Rapids.

The people Clyde Sims helps on the streets of Grand Rapids often are homeless, addicted to drugs and sometimes did time in jail. But there’s one thing they don’t want to accept: their mental illness.

Hello!? X is homeless, on illicit drugs, and a jailbird, right? Let’s just give X a 4rd problem. Call X “mentally ill” and put X on prescription drugs. Excuse my math, but I don’t see the improvement.

“They say, ‘Call me anything but crazy,'” Sims said.

I expect some of them have been called many things, some things much worse than ‘crazy’.

It’s his job to change their minds and get them help.

Is this a change for the better, or a change for the worse? And is this “help” we are going for “help”, or just harm mascerading as “help”? Oh, I know…too many questions…

Sims, 63, is a peer support specialist for Street Reach, a Cherry Street Health Services program that seeks out people with mental illness and substance abuse and gets them treatment.

You want to know why we’ve got the “mental illness” problem we’ve got today? Well, if somebody has to seek people out, and seek to change their minds, to convince them that they have a “mental illness”, why do you think we’ve got the “mental illness” problem we’ve got today? Oh, yeah, and on top of the homeless problem?

Sims has hung out under bridges and set up with coffee on the streets of Heartside. He has convinced people to get assessed by Street Reach clinicians and meet with psychiatrists. He has helped them find places to live.

If “mental illness” means a roof over one’s head, and three square meals, for a homeless person. Yeah, sure, that might work…

“When you’ve hurt a lot of people, you want to help a lot of people,” he said. “I want to get them thinking, ‘Maybe I’m not homeless because I’m bad. Maybe I’m bipolar. Maybe I need to get off these drugs.’

Or maybe I’m homeless because I don’t have a house. That one works, too, you know…Maybe I’m abusing drugs or whatnot because I don’t have a job, and I don’t have a house, or an apartment for that matter. Maybe I don’t have a job because the economy is in shambles, and a lot of people don’t have jobs. Maybe the economy is in shambles because some rich bastards are busy screwing over the vast majority of essientially poorer people for the sake of the moolah they rake in doing so.

It’s kind of a big rat eats littler rats world out there, isn’t it?

“God has taken my mess,” he said, “and made it my message.”

If contagious “mental illness” were my message, I’d think about holding my tongue. This is where the message ascends to new, and never before seen, heights of absurdity. We have an epidemic of psychiatric disability in this country, and these self-proclaimed experts in the field would have us escalate that crisis. You can’t sell psychiatric drugs without, at the same time, selling “mental illness”. Of course, they don’t see themselves as increasing the numbers of “mentally ill” in this country. Instead they see it as a matter of finding those “mentally ill” who were there all along. I’ve got news for them. The numbers don’t work. They weren’t there all along.

Penalties needed for nursing homes that drug seniors government inspector says

The Washington Post has a story about government inspectors going after nursing homes over the issue of dispensing neuroleptic drugs for dementia. The article bears the very promising headline, Gov’t inspector says penalties needed to curb use of psychiatric drugs in nursing homes.

Government inspectors told lawmakers Wednesday that Medicare officials need to do more to stop doctors from prescribing powerful psychiatric drugs to nursing home patients with dementia, an unapproved practice that has flourished despite repeated government warnings.

This is, in my opinion, a very good move.

An inspector for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the Senate Committee on Aging that the federal government’s Medicare program should begin penalizing nursing homes that inappropriately prescribe antipsychotics, according to written testimony obtained by the Associated Press.

Yay! Somebody is suggesting doing something that makes sense for a change. It’s an action that is sorely needed as the extent of this “off label” prescribing practice is beyond alarming.

A report by [Health and Human Services Inspector General] Levinson’s office issued in May found that 83 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics were for residents with dementia, the condition specifically warned against in the drugs’ labeling. Fourteen percent of all nursing home residents, nearly 305,000 patients, were prescribed antipsychotics. The HHS Inspector General’s office Medicare claims during a 2007 six month period.

As nursing home staff are disregarding these warning labels, penalties are called for. If nursing homes aren’t penalized it will mean many more needless deaths.

Bravo, government inspector, but this is only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to “off label” drugging. This is not a problem that exists just among the elderly. We need to penalize foster care workers and juvenile justice facilities that would use powerful neuroleptic drugs on children and adolescents as a controlling devise as well. Hopefully there, too, the government will get around to doing the only thing that will help curtail “off label” prescribing practices, and that’s punishing the biggest offenders.