“Let’s Roll” With Mad in America Continuing Education

Robert Nikkel, MSW
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We decided some time ago to hold off on publicizing the Mad in America Continuing Education project until we had a sufficient range of presentations. We are just about there. This week we posted the incredible Dr. Eleanor Longden’s talk, “The Voices in My Head.”  If you have never heard her story, this is one you won’t forget.  If you need CMEs or CEUs, or just want to audit this and other amazing presentations for free, please go to the MIACE home page.

Coming up in the next week or two is a presentation by a legend of long-term recovery research, Dr. Courtenay Harding.  She presents three modules on the Vermont story: a comparison of the outcomes of Vermont’s progressive policies to the state of Maine’s business-as-usual outcomes.  You can guess the difference.

As if I needed any reminder of why our continuing education project is so necessary, I read in a Psychiatric Times email this morning their version of a continuing education offering.  They publicize the contents of a CME training (that is — fortunately — no longer available for CMEs, having expired at the of 2014) on “Metabolic Monitoring for Patients on Antipsychotic Medications.”  While they claim that “it is the policy of [the training’s sponsors] CME Outfitters, LLC, to ensure independence, balance, objectivity and scientific rigor and integrity,” they admit in the disclosure declaration one paragraph down that the key instructor is on the Speaker’s Bureau for Pfizer Canada, and consults for another pharmaceutical company.  This is exactly the dynamic that Mad in America Continuing Education is committed to extinguish in our training.  Just like the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, we are a drug-free enterprise.

What is really most disturbing — and expected — is that the Psychiatric Times “training” asks no fundamental questions about the risk balance between outcomes and the tragedy of metabolic hazards for people who take their medications.  In fact, the title says it all — let’s just monitor patients.  There’s a not-so-subtle, implicit “blame the victim” statement about the risks of lifestyle: diet, physical inactivity, and cigarette smoking.  I had to ask myself how many of the prescribers could do much more if they took their own medications.  And, almost unbelievably, there was reference to making sure that clinics had scales that could exceed measurements of 300-350 pounds!

There is no attention given to reducing dosages, much less any information given about how to help people withdraw safely from medications that are more and more clearly demonstrating that they cause the very symptoms they supposedly eliminate.  The assumption that chemical imbalances are restored by “antipsychotics” is implicit throughout.  Even using the term “antipsychotics,” instead of the honest term “neuroleptics” gives their bias away.

The Mad in America Continuing Education Project is all about asking the tough questions, and answering them with the best — i.e; unbiased — research.  The answers are not simple, which is why we have a lot of courses yet to produce.  Some that you can look forward to in the coming months will be:

  • Dr. Lex Wunderink on the random control group study of neuroleptics that shows that after 2 years those who took the meds did worse.  This is totally consistent, of course, with what Dr. Martin Harrow and Dr. Thomas Jobe described in their course on the Chicago Long-Term Outcome Study, Psychiatric Medications and Long-term Outcomes for Schizophrenia, which is available on-line now.
  • Later this summer, Dr. Erick Turner, a former FDA official, will present on research publication bias.
  • Dr. Adam Urato will present on the many risks of antidepressants in pregnancy, and afterward.
  • Dr. Irving Kirsch will present on antidepressants, with a special focus on the placebo effect. This course should be available later in the summer as well.

I am working with other researchers to provide information on topics like dopamine supersensitivity, the neurobiology of resilience, nutritional approaches to working with mental health challenges, and many others.

We look forward to providing these and many other courses in the future and appreciate the attention that readers of Mad in America and the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care can give in spreading the word further about our project.  Remember, too, that these courses can be viewed at no cost as long as CMEs and CEUs are not required.  I want to especially thank our funders for their generosity in making all this possible.  And I also want to acknowledge the world-class experts who are providing us with the best unbiased research on mental health issues available anywhere.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Bob:

    I am so grateful for the new module featuring Eleanor Longden. Thak you from the bottom of my heart! The animation is spot on and the entire training is succinct, gripping and professional!

    And the best part about it is the accessibility! Not only can everyone on my family take it for free, the CEU version is so affordable at $15 that I can offer to pay for the tuition of key mental health care workers who are working with my daughter who is civilly commited. She is warehoused in a sixteen bed secure facility in Umatilla and not getting the hearing voices support that she needs. It’s all meds, meds, meds.

    Do you have any suggestions for a parent in how to get staff yo take this? I can’t afford to go in with guns blazing. It usually makes things worse

    1) by making staff more resistant to our visiting our daughter

    2) by appearing to be ungrateful for her ‘treatment’ there is a tendency for some staff to relish the ‘confirmation of how “sick” she is when she reacts negatively to the routine human rights violations that are implicit under the paradigm of forced care.

    If the order came from the Oregon health commissioner for state workers to take this training that would be so helpful!

    Who is going to lead the charge to get this in every mental health training curriculum of every community college, medical college, NAMI chapter, etc

  2. I forgot to mention the data on psychosis super sensitivity is much needed. My daughter was lucky enough to get assigned to a conservative prescriber after many years of coercive status quo psychiatry but that person took her off multiple medications simultaneously without tapering her slowly after years of being on invega and zyprexa (which only served to make her worse).

    She had a horrible relapse as a result and because she had been shipped 400 miles from her hometown it was challenging to rally her hometown supporters to visit, call, write, etc.

    Good intentions such as reducing reliance on pharmaceuticals can go horribly awry if we don’ t develop a better understanding of the way neuroleptics change the brain and develop a nationwide network of psychiatric drug withdrawal support groups similar to AA.

    The cost of treatment may go up per individual during the first most difficult years of psychiatric drug withdrawal if social supports during the acute phase cannot be delivered by compassionate trained volunteers or peer counselors. But the long term savings to the taxpayer could be enormous as more and more individuals evolve from chronically dependent ‘sick’ people to happy productive self sufficient tax payers.

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