The roll-out for Mad in America Continuing Education courses is moving into its next phase —improved presentation of courses and a more aggressive marketing of what we believe are unique CME and CEU resources for professionals and advocates alike.
If I needed any reminder of why our continuing education project is so necessary, all I need to do is continue to read through my Psychiatric Times email. This past week, there was a continued reference to “schizophrenia” as a chronic life-time condition — with the underlying message that “you have to take these medications the rest of your life.” This may be good for free enterprise but it’s the same outdated story we’ve heard since the 1950s — and which good science has contradicted over and over since then.
The Psychiatric Times “trainings” ask no fundamental questions about the risk/benefit balance between outcomes and the tragedy of metabolic hazards for people who take these medications. There’s a continued not-so-subtle “blame the victim” mentality about the risks of lifestyle – diet, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking. It’s never the drugs that are to blame.
A year and half ago, when I first posted warnings about these kinds of trainings, I noted that one of their ads admonished clinics to have scales that could exceed measurements of 300-350 pounds, I had to ask myself how many of the prescribers might meet criteria to be prescribed their own medications!
The Mad in America Continuing Education Project will continue to ask tough questions and answer them with the best, i.e. unbiased, research. The answers are not necessarily simple, which is one reason we have a lot of courses that we need to create.
Here is what we have on our agenda:
- We will be marketing our courses to a wider group of professionals and advocates in the coming year. We want to make this information known to everybody involved in mental health . . . that is how important it is. Our courses help tell a new narrative.
- As we develop new courses, we will explore offering an initial webinar presentation by the instructor, as this will increase the opportunity for people to interact with the researcher.
- We also intend to present the online courses in shorter “lesson” modules, which we believe will foster better learning.
- We will be redesigning our Mad in America Continuing Education website, with the intention that the website will provide more detailed information about each course, and why such information is vital to know.
- We expect to bundle the CEU courses together into longer presentations on a topic, such as the safety and efficacy of a given class of drugs, as we believe this will lead to a more robust learning experience.
In the past year, we have added courses such as these:
- Peter Gøtzsche, cofounder of the Cochrane Collaboration, on why so few patients benefit from psychiatric medications.
- Lex Wunderink, on his randomized study that found that psychotics patients slowly withdrawn from antipsychotics, or tapered to a low dose, had much higher recovery rates at the end of seven years than those maintained on regular doses of an antipsychotic. (This is consistentent with the findings of Dr. Martin Harrow and Dr. Thomas Jobe, in their long-term study of psychotic patients. Their course presentation is available online now.)
- Erick Turner, a former FDA official, on research publication bias.
- Adam Urato on the risks of antidepressants in pregnancy to the fetus, and how such drug prescribing may impair normal fetal development.
- Irving Kirsch, on the placebo effect in depression, and how antidepressants do not provide a clinically meaningful benefit over placebo for most patients.
- Our newest course, on nutrition and mental health, by Bonnie Kaplan and Julia Rucklidge. This course provides an in-depth examination of the effectiveness of micro-nutrients as a treatment for mental disorders.
We hope that readers of this blog will help us spread the word about our project. The online courses advertised in Psychiatric Times support the conventional practices and beliefs, whereas the courses presented by Mad in America Continuing Education provide the “evidence” for creating a new paradigm of care, one that would truly help people get well and stay well.
Remember that these courses can currently be viewed at no cost (CMEs and CEUs are $15 per credit hour). I want to especially thank our funders for their generosity in making all of 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 anywhere.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.