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February 6, 2018 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

What Would a Truly Integrated System of Care Look Like?

Imagine that you were the director of a health insurance company and you had just agreed to provide health coverage to several hundred thousand people and you will have to fund health care including mental health and alcohol/drug care too.  This is called “integration.”

What it means financially is that you will lose a lot of money if you ignore the physical health needs of people with mental health problems.  In the parlance of insurance folks, you’re “at risk.”

Now, someone walks into your office and tells you that about a quarter to a third of the people you’ve just signed up to serve are being poisoned but no one really knows about it or recognizes it.  If it’s true, you stand to lose a lot of money unless you figure out what’s going on.  And what if they also tell you that the poisoning is not some form of environmental pollution like smoky air or unclean water but is actually being caused by the very providers of health and mental health that you’re about to be supporting?

Since you’ve been in the health insurance business for a while, you recognize that in western medicine, almost everything that’s provided is some form of mutilation, i.e. surgery, or poisoning, i.e. medications.  (Please note that if you’re a physician and reading this and taking some level of offense, the recognition I just pointed to was made by a physician, a well-respected one at that and he meant no offense, nor do I – just a simple way of thinking about things and the key question is whether the risks outweigh the benefits or vice versa.)

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January 11, 2018 by Sami Timimi, MD

The Scientism of Psychiatry

Psychiatry likes to portray itself as a scientific discipline, and indeed there is a lot of useful science to draw on when evaluating the evidence base connected to mental health problems, its causes and treatments. Sadly, most of the mainstream psychiatric literature of recent decades has shown a marked preference for rhetoric over scientific accuracy. Research and discourse in psychiatry are now dominated and infected by scientism — the promotion of a belief, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, that because what you do and talk about sounds and looks like ‘science,’ it is ‘scientific’ — rather than a rational engagement with the nature and consequences of the actual scientific findings.

This scientism has sometimes scared critics from engagement with the actual science in preference of critiquing the suitability of using scientific reasoning to understand what we today define as ‘mental health.’ Opening the lid on both issues (the lack of engagement with the actual scientific findings and the suitability of using particular scientific methods for all knowledge generation) is important. We must endeavour to make transparent the grand deception that organisations such as the one I belong to (the British Royal College of Psychiatrists) are selling to the public about the nature of what we have come to call ‘mental illness,’ its causes, its treatments, and the way we should organise services to help those who become mentally unwell.

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January 1, 2018 by Gina Nikkel, PhD

Happy New Year!

Wishing you many blessings in 2018, the happiness you deserve, and challenges removed from your path! May we all approach 2018 with gratitude for what we have and the tenacity to improve the world we live in.

Here at The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care we are most grateful for all the projects and research being funded by you, our donors. It is these very projects that are helping to improve the world we live in by affecting access to recovery-based programs and research knowledge to help people make more informed choices for their own mental health.

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December 11, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

How Would We Know If We Really Reformed the Mental Health System?

This post updated 12/28/2017

I have been wondering for some time how we would know if the mental health systems in the United States were really reformed.  It is true that there are “a thousand points of light,” many great new and older programs and initiatives out there with tremendous advocacy and efforts at radical change.  But when a system leaves so many without recovery-oriented supports, it is like swimming upstream against a powerful current.  Here are 25 indicators that if fully implemented would represent a complete system reform.

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December 8, 2017 by EXCELLENCE Editor

Redeeming the Irreconcilable

At its best, motherhood is a bittersweet agony of self-sacrifice and letting go. At its worst, her child dies and a mother enters a new world of never letting go, carrying the weight of an unrightable wrong. The miracle of beauty from ashes comes when her love grows up through the grief and continues to give life.

In 1956, Alice Bolstridge gave birth to a beautiful, joyful boy she named Alan. In 2015, she laid him to rest. In between, they walked together through the trauma of a prolonged childhood illness and a lifetime of seemingly intractable mental and emotional challenges that grew from it.

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November 16, 2017 by Berta Britz

Another Story

Acting like a “nice, compliant” individual has seriously harmed me for most of my 67 years.  Due to my economic privilege, I received the best medical and psychiatric treatment available and, for most of those years, I accepted the “official” narrative, the dominant explanation for my ongoing suffering.  That narrative is a limiting belief that harmed me and continues to damage all of us—not just we who have been diagnosed, but entire societies.

Many people identify the proliferation of psychiatric drugs as the root of our harm.  I see neuroleptic drug use not as the root but as the fruit of the destructive narrative upon which most of our industrialized, “developed,” societies depend.  And without deep transformative change, the damage from that dependence may be irreparable.

The people I depended on as an infant and young child did and said things that both helped and harmed me.  My early life felt confusing and terrifying, and it was my connection with animals that sustained me.  I lacked basic trust and hid my vulnerability. 

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November 13, 2017 by Sandra Steingard, MD

Duration of Untreated Psychosis Revisited: Response to the Goff Paper

Earlier this year, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper, “The Long-Term Effects of Antipsychotic Medications on Clinical Course in Schizophrenia.” This was a response to the concerns that have been raised that these drugs negatively impact long-term outcomes. The authors conclude, albeit in a somewhat lukewarm way, that overall, the “evidence for a negative long-term effect of initial or maintenance antipsychotic treatment is not compelling.” Robert Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff, whose work was cited by the authors, have written critiques of this paper.

Even if one accepts the paper’s conclusions at face value, there is little argument regarding some serious long-term risks such as movement disorders and weight gain. One of the most compelling reasons why these authors support long-term care is related to the relapse data: when one is started on these drugs, the relapse rate is higher when they are stopped than when they are continued (at least over the first two years). However, there is general consensus that there are some individuals who will recover and not need medications long-term. In fact, there is even consensus that some can recover without drugs; the dispute is over numbers.

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October 30, 2017 by Bonnie Kaplan, PhD

Are We Treating Mental Disorders or Suboptimal Nutrition?

Lecture to the May 2017 Nutrition and Health Conference at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine

NutritionFundVideo

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October 7, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

The Continuing Education Course on Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs is Here!

At the beginning of September, I wrote about the next stage of the Mad in America Continuing Education project—the development of webinar formats and I announced the planning for a “course” on withdrawal from psychiatric medications.  At that time, I was able to provide only introductory information but now I can provide a full picture of the 7 webinars that comprise the course and update a few other developments.

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September 27, 2017 by Lise Zumwalt

Many people have asked me why I made this film called CRAZY.

And the answer is I got hooked. After decades working in television, I was looking for stories that aren’t being told. I came across an article about a group of people diagnosed with mental disorders that were going to weekly meetings, 12 step style. I researched the mental rights movement and I started wondering why we weren’t talking more about the issues they were raising. I called David Oaks and when I got off the phone, my hands were shaking. I met a guy, diagnosed bi polar who told me, “all I have to do to get committed is make 2 doctors nervous…do you know how easy that is?” And then he described how devastating it was to be told that you cannot trust yourself anymore. Your mind, your mission control will have to be run by someone else.

Hmmm. Who decides that? And how?

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