I considered leaving my position as a support group facilitator at Mental Health America when I discovered the organization was receiving funding from drug companies and realized it had become a Pharma Puppet, like NAMI. But I care about the group members and believe peer support services are a vital source of healing for many people, so I made a conscious decision to set aside my concerns and continue facilitating. However, when MHA lobbied for Indiana HEA 1006 (legislation that expands forced treatment and removes constitutional rights from people with real or alleged mental illness), I realized that I could no longer allow myself to be a cog in the oppressive, profit-driven, psych industry wheel. I had to take a stand.
In addition to testifying against HEA 1006 in the Indiana Senate (link to testimony), I resigned from MHA with the following letter.
Dear MHA Leaders,
This is a notice of resignation from my volunteer position at Mental Health America. After 20 years of service (support groups & Compeer program), I can no longer, in good conscience, work for an organization that violates the principles upon which it was founded. Clifford Beers would be outraged and ashamed of what his organization has become.
I advise you to melt the Bell of Hope back down into shackles because your legislative actions promote discrimination, and abuse of people with real or alleged mental health struggles. HEA 1006 has essentially returned Indiana to the Asylum Era in which anyone can be psychiatrically imprisoned and force-drugged on a whim (based on unquestioned/unproven information from a 3rd party) with no due process, no defense, no rights, no voice, no protections, no control over their medical care, their body, or their life—AND no opportunity for justice or redress—even if injured, traumatized, disabled, left in social and financial devastation, or killed in the course of “treatment.” You testified in favor of one of the most egregiously horrific and oppressive pieces of mental health legislation I have ever encountered, then drenched accolades on the legislators who voted it into law.
The medical community, politicians, and MHA constantly bemoan “The stigma of mental illness” and “discrimination against the mentally ill,” yet seem oblivious to the fact that YOU are the primary perpetrators—not society (which you conveniently use as a fall guy). You lobby for legislation that deprives psych-labeled people of constitutional and human rights, then wrap it up in a pretty bow and call it “good.” I consider this worse than blatant discrimination and abuse.
Your views about what people need in a crisis are severely misguided, and you appear to have no ability to critically evaluate the data or design of the studies you use to support your actions (if any are used at all). You pat yourselves on the back for “helping people,” completely unaware that the treatments and practices you promote effectively truncate the life of psych patients by 20+ years. To clarify, this drastically reduced lifespan is NOT caused by “bad genes” or “Chemical Imbalances” (i.e., drug company marketing propaganda/profit scheme). It is due to the direct effects of psychotropic drugs, electric shocks, inpatient “care,” and medical neglect and mistreatment of psychiatrically-labeled human beings. FYI, psych drugs have no proven “neuroprotective properties” and mental illnesses are not “brain-destroying” conditions. Stop spreading such rubbish. The studies that purport this are heavily flawed. However, there is very strong evidence that psych drugs and shocks destroy brains.
Are you concerned that the 988 hotline (which is deceptively advertised as “confidential”) increases suicide rates? People who receive inpatient “care”—especially by force—are subsequently hundreds of times more likely to kill themselves. Are you concerned that inpatient hospitalization replicates the traumas that lead people to need/seek help? Are you concerned that psych drug studies show an increased incidence of suicide, mania, psychosis, violence, agitation, functional and cognitive impairments, and death in the active drug group compared to the placebo group, and (unsurprisingly) worse outcomes? Are you concerned that members of the DSM committee admit there is no science behind the (arbitrary) diagnostic criteria they create, and that most of the members have financial ties to drug companies? Are you concerned that doctors are not trained in evidence-based methods to discontinue medications, and that they use abrupt tapering regimens created by drug companies to trigger severe and acute withdrawal symptoms during trials to make their drugs “appear” effective and to promote the belief that life-long drugging is necessary?
You take blood money from drug companies that blatantly lie and manipulate data to hide death, disability, suicide, severe health risks, and poor/non-existent efficacy, and illegally market their drugs for indications not approved by the FDA, with no regard for the people they harm.
You advocate for the interests of drug companies—not people with mental health issues—funneling them directly into a highly profitable system of abuse & disempowerment. The mental health screenings you use were created by Pharma marketing departments (not scientists or doctors) to increase revenue. The labels applied to suffering people render them “unreliable/unbelievable,” with fewer rights than criminals, and give doctors illegitimate authority over them. And, unlike criminals, their records (psych labels/history) cannot be expunged. It will follow them for the rest of their life, no matter how falsified and inaccurate they are. Terms like “Anosognosia” and “Lack of Insight” are used to discredit a person who disagrees with their doctor, the diagnosis, or the treatment, and render them powerless and defenseless in court proceedings for forced treatment. In what universe is this acceptable…let alone considered “mental health care”?
I bid farewell with this:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology
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.
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