I’m excited to announce a new series of Mad in America Continuing Education webinars for 2019. They focus on what I believe is a central issue—what does a true informed consent process look like for the prescription of psychiatric drugs? This is a leverage point for changing the paradigm of care by starting with how people are informed about what psychiatric drugs do.
I believe that righting this ship is largely going to be up to non-medical mental health professionals and persons with experience in having been through a system that fails miserably to provide real informed consent. Since we are a continuing education program, our courses are designed primarily for the first group: psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage/family therapists. We will continue to apply for continuing education credits (CEs) and at some point recruit more interest from physicians so it would be worthwhile to apply for the more expensive continuing medical education credits (CMEs).Read More
There is evidence that many individuals are on higher doses of antipsychotic drug than is required for optimal functioning yet there are limited guidelines on how to reduce them. This paper reports on 5 year outcomes for sixty-seven individuals who received treatment at a community mental health center and were offered the opportunity to gradually reduce their doses of antipsychotic drug in collaboration with the treating psychiatrist. Over a period of 6 months, the author invited patients who were clinically stable and able to participate in discussions of potential risks and benefits to begin gradual dose reductions. Initially, 40 expressed interest in tapering and 27 declined. The groups did not differ in age, sex, race, or diagnosis. The group who chose to taper began on significantly lower doses. Most patients succeeded at making modest dose reductions. At 5 years, there were no significant differences in the two outcomes measures, rate of hospitalization and employment status. Many patients were able to engage in these discussions which did not result in widespread discontinuation of drug. This is a naturalistic, small study of a topic that warrants further research.Read More
Some people are asking me, “Why another series of webinars on withdrawing from psychiatric drugs?” That’s a reasonable question given that our first series, Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs, covered a lot of territory. We presented general information as well as more specific subjects like wellness, personal experiences, research findings, and the evidence base for drug withdrawal.
But this subject is a complex one, and our first course was just our start in exploring this topic. With this second course we are focusing on the challenges that drug withdrawal presents to prescribers.
As many have noted, prescribers may have extensive experience getting patients on psychiatric medications and then managing their drug use, but little or no experience helping patients taper off the drugs. As some have quipped, prescribers have learned to fly the plane but not land it.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
This series of seven 90-minute webinars will feature presentations by people with “expertise by lived experience,” psychiatrists, and other professionals on a topic of critical importance: What do we know about withdrawal from psychiatric medications? The educational purpose of the series is to present information and insights that arise:
The Mad in America Continuing Education Project is continuing to evolve. Earlier in this year, we initiated a new way of providing our courses—a webinar format which has been going over quite well. Over 200 people took Dr. Chris Gordon and Keegan Arcure’s live course on Open Dialogue —and the numbers have continued to grow as people watch the webinar after the fact. So we have decided to ramp up our webinar offerings. We have produced two more so far; one on Oregon’s early psychosis intervention program, EASA (Early Assessment and Support Alliance), and another with Denmark’s Olga Runciman speaking on withdrawing from antipsychotic drugs.Read More
The Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction study (PMDR) is the first U.S. survey of a large sample of longer-term users who chose to discontinue psychiatric medications. The study, funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care and led by current and former users of psychiatric medications, sought to understand first-hand experiences and strategies of individuals who decided to discontinue psychiatric medications, and either stopped or reduced the use of these medications.Read More
“You’re Mentally Ill, take these pills to make you better” is what I constantly heard growing up. I believed what I was told because the adults said so, and they believed what they were told because the doctor said so, and they believed what they were told because the pharmaceutical rep said so because big pharma paid them to say so, etc.
If you had asked me: “What’s wrong with you?”, I would have rattled off ADHD, Depression, Social Anxiety, Spacial Anxiety, Reactive Detachment Disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, early childhood trauma, PTSD, etc. I was always introduced by my “problem” and my “situation”. “He’s a mentally ill foster child/juvenile delinquent”, as though those titles encompassed all of who I was. I was referred to and treated as though I was a patient and not as a person.
I used to dread being heavily sedated, so numb that I couldn’t process or even feel the trauma I desperately needed to address to heal. I despised the feeling of being different in a bad way, of feeling like I would never be able to fit in, to belong.
I hated the diagnoses because you can’t define the full spectrum of my emotions, my life experiences, my world views, with a diagnoses of a disorder, with a stigma or a label. I’m much more than that, I’m complex, I’m sophisticated, I’m intelligent, I’m weird, I hurt, I heal, I learn, and I love, all so very deeply. Most importantly, I can recover.
At 18 years old, I chose not to take those pills anymore, and on this life-long recovery journey I am still finding myself. I believe there are many paths to recovery and it’s each person’s right to choose which path they take.
I do not accept the stigmas and stereotypes that other people impose on me. I define myself by my ability to transcend pain with Purpose, Resilience and Peace from within. Moral of the story: Don’t believe the hype, you are more than the description of a set of symptoms. You are who YOU CHOOSE to be! Opinions don’t change the world; Actions do.
Giovan Bazan is an internationally recognized motivational speaker who shares a message of empowerment with youth and adults across the globe. As an advocate for youth, Giovan offers his hard-won wisdom about the best interests of children and youth who have been “systemized” in the Foster Care, Juvenile Justice and Mental Health Systems. He has influenced a variety of legislation on topics like running away, homelessness, mental health, truancy, abuse, foster care and juvenile justice. Giovan has inspired thousands of youth and adults, from speaking to teens in Juvenile Detention Centers to working with the White House. He has been featured on National Public Radio, CNN Dialogues, Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, among others. He has consulted for state departments of juvenile justice, mental health, family and children services and the White House Council for Community Solutions. Giovan is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care .Read More
Before my sister’s untimely death from an overdose of pharmaceuticals, I didn’t think much about pharmaceuticals in any meaningful way. I’ve never dealt with serious illness. My sister was eccentric from an early age and no one thought much of it. Of course, the labeling of mental illness had not yet come into play at that time.
We were adopted from separate families and when she met her birth family, she discovered that her father was bi-polar. He was taking Lexipro at the time, so she found a doctor who would prescribe the same.Read More