Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, Dr. David Cohen, Dr. Chuck Ruby, Faith Myers and I just published our Report on Improving Mental Health Outcomes (Report). It is intended to be used to advocate for the elimination of unwanted psychiatric interventions and to promote the humane, effective, voluntary approaches we know work, such as Peer Respites, Soteria Houses, Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices Network, & eCPR. It has extensive citations to support its case for fundamental changes to the mental health system.
The mental health system’s standard treatments are colossally counter-productive and harmful, often forced on unwilling patients. The overreliance on psychiatric drugs is reducing the recovery rate of people diagnosed with serious mental illness from a possible 80% to 5% and reducing their life spans by 20 years or so. Psychiatric incarceration, euphemistically called “involuntary commitment,” is similarly counterproductive and harmful, adding to patients’ trauma and massively associated with suicides. Harmful psychiatric interventions are being imposed on people without consideration of the facts about treatments and their harms, and are a violation of International Law.
The most important elements for improving patients’ lives are People, Place and Purpose. People—even psychiatric patients—need to have relation-ships (People), a safe place to live (Place), and activity that is meaningful to them, usually school or work (Purpose). People need to be given hope these are possible. Voluntary approaches that improve people’s lives should be made broadly available instead of the currently prevailing counterproductive and harmful psychiatric drugs for everyone, forever, regime often forced on people. These approaches include Peer Respites, Soteria Houses, Open Dialogue, Drug-Free Hospitals, Housing First, Employment, Warm Lines, Hearing Voices Network, Non-Police Community Response Teams, and emotional CPR (eCPR).
By implementing these approaches, mental health systems can move towards, and even achieve, the 80% possible recovery rate.
As bad as it is for adults, the psychiatric incarceration and psychiatric drugging of children and youth is even more tragic and should cease. Instead, children and youth should be helped to manage their emotions and become successful, and their parents should be given support and assistance to achieve this.
The White Paper published last April included universally applicable information as well as Alaska specific circumstances. See, White Paper Presents Case Against Forced Treatment, Mad in America, April 27, 2023. I thought it would be beneficial to present the universally applicable information without the Alaska specific material to make it easier for people to use in their own locales, and the Report was born. The White Paper had a strict deadline and in my view the Report is somewhat better on this material because we had additional time.
The Report is a comprehensive, and I think authoritative, analysis of the counterproductive nature and tremendous harm caused by psychiatric drugs and unwanted psychiatric interventions, such as incarceration, euphemistically called “involuntary commitment,” and forced drugging. The section on approaches that should be used instead of the current system is not as comprehensive or authoritative because there is so much innovation going on, but I do think it is a good overview of the principles involved and a good summary of both the most well-known approaches some not so well known.
Readers of Mad in America will find much, if not all, of the material in the Report familiar, but we hope Mad in America readers will be intermediaries for the intended audience. In other words, we hope Mad in America readers will present the Report to policy-makers and potential funders in their advocacy to achieve the promise of the Report.
With the Orwellian named C.A.R.E. Court statute recently enacted in California soon to be implemented, Mayor Adams’ vow to use existing law to sweep up the homeless into “mental health treatment,” and similar efforts in other places, this is a particularly important time for people to advocate against unwanted psychiatric interventions and the availability instead of voluntary, humane and effective approaches.
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.
Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.