1 mental health trend a heck of a lot of us would like to see for 2012

I’d like to offer my take on Richard Zwolinski’s article at PsychCentral, 5 Mental Health Pro Trends We Hope To See For 2012. Although I happen to be at odds with most of the trends he would put forward. I’m not at odds with one of them. It is a pity that that trend is way down at the # 4 position in a list of 5 trends, plus 1.

1. MORE mental health and addiction treatment programs will incorporate nutrition education and other nutritional programs in their treatment of mental illness and addiction.

I feel that here one is reacting to the incidents of obesity and metabolic syndrome issues seen in people in treatment due to the use of atypical neuroleptic drugs. A more effective, and potentially life saving, measure would be to institute more alternatives to conventional treatments that rely so heavily on drugs. I’m not against health consciousness, but increasing health consciousness also means informing more patients about the effects of neuroleptic drugs. Life style issues are not a problem peculiar to people in mental health treatment, iatrogenic disease and drug effects are a problem peculiar to people in treatment. Unless you inform people about these drug effects, and give them the option of drug-free treatment, any nutritional program provided is going to be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

2. MORE psychotherapists will use evidence-based treatment methods and techniques as the bulwark of their practice.

Psychiatrists have been adept at ignoring the evidence for ages. I’m afraid that when it comes to whatever evidence-based treatment is employed, it will also be a matter of ignoring evidence that doesn’t suit the researcher’s bias. I just don’t believe we’re talking about ALL the evidence, I can well imagine psychiatrists discriminating between the evidence that serves their premises, and that evidence that doesn’t serve those premises. I can in fact imagine evidence-based treatment being used as ruse to prevent dissidence and curtail experimentation. That kind of evidence-based practice we are better off without. I know that doctors have been ignoring that evidence that shows people doing better off pharmaceuticals than on. I don’t get the idea that the intention of this trend is to stop the suppression of this information.

3. MORE faith-based future-therapists will enter university programs. There will be an increase (by educators, administrators, legislators) in tolerance, acceptance, and encouragement for those from traditional religious backgrounds to be able to maintain their deeply-held beliefs as they study in and graduate from university programs in the field of mental health.

Don’t like. We know what’s wrong with faith healers. That’s where religion tries to do medicines job, and it isn’t at all scientific. When medicine lets in superstitions, such as the beliefs espoused by traditional religions, science goes out the door. We’ve got a word for religion that masquerades as medicine, and that word is fraud. Church and state don’t mix well either. Scratch this trend.

At one time, one distressed person might turn to a preacher for counseling, and another to a mental health professional. Limiting the choices available, and obscuring the differences between them, is not an improvement in my book.

4. LESS pathologizing of everyone, especially kids.

Why isn’t this trend listed as trend number 1, or preferably trends 1 through 6? This is the only trend of Zwolinski’s that I’m completely in agreement with, and I would at least put it first on the list. I definitely wouldn’t stick it way back here in 4th place where it might get lost and neglected.

5. LESS “winging it.”

The author is a true believer in “treatment plans”. I am a complete skeptic in “treatment plans”, especially of the sort that are typically used. I suggest that my idea of “winging it” and his are completely at odds. I would probably call the very “treatment plans” he is so fond of using a matter of “winging it”. I think sometimes the best treatment is no treatment. Sometimes people develop addictions to “treatment plans”, sometimes these addictions are extremely difficult to cure. One way to recovery is through abandoning the “treatment plan”. One isn’t truly recovered in fact unless one has ceased to consume treatment.

6. Bonus: MORE people in need accessing appropriate treatment

The idea is that it can be too difficult for people to get into treatment. As a contra indication for listing this trend, I have to point to trend # 4. There has been much talk of late of a “mental illness” epidemic. There would be no epidemic if it was more difficult to get mental health treatment. Apparently, we’re making it TOO EASY for people to get into treatment. The grapevine is buzzing with the “mental health” equivalent of small pox.

Anybody can come up with a trend wish list of this sort. Adopting # 4 as my # 1 trend, and scratching the rest of Richard Zwolinski’s proposals, my top 2012 trend list, with the addition of 4 trends, would run something like this.

1. LESS pathologizing of everyone, especially kids.
2. MORE legal protections of citizens from psychiatric assault, oppression, false imprisonment, and other human rights violations.
3. MORE state hospital closings.
4. MORE crisis respite centers, preventative when it comes to hospitalizations.
5. MORE transitional housing and Housing First programs, also preventative.
6. MORE consumer/survivors in positions of power in the traditional mental health system.
7. LESS discriminatory training and hiring practices.
8. LESS criminalization of people labeled “mentally ill”.
9. MORE prosecutions of pharmaceutical company executives and bad psychiatrists.
10. MORE community integration of former mental patients.
11. Bonus: LESS co-optation, corruption, and synchophancy.

I suppose the good news is that at least we can agree on one trend we’d both like to see.