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MFI Alert Creates Torrent of Comments to NIMH Asking For "More Choices!"

Here are just a few of the e-mails sent to the USA National Instyitute of Mental Health after MindFreedom issued an alert issued an aler about an NIMH Strategic Plan.

updated 22 Dec. 2007


Within just six days of MindFreedom issuing alerts, many people contacted the National Institute of Mental Health about their biased and unfair draft Strategic Plan for the next three to five years. Thank you! Below are some of the comments.


[Disclaimer: These comments are on behalf of the individual who submitted the comment, and do not necessarily reflect MindFreedom's positions.]

To read the MFI alert that led to these and other comments tto NIMH, click here.

While the deadline has passed to comment on the NIMH Strategic Plan, you can contact NIMH at any time with civil feedback, comments and queries. For NIMH contact info click here:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/site-info/contact-nimh.shtml


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A Few of the Messages Pouring Into National Institute of Mental Health about their Draft Strategic Plan:



I am a consumer of the public mental health system here in Phoenix, Arizona and I have been for over 3 years. I have experienced first hand what mental health care is here. I have also witnessed what many other people have experienced. What I can tell you for sure is that the mental health care system is extremely bad in Arizona because the main focus of treatment is Psychiatric drugs. I have had very bad reactions from Psychiatric drugs and I know a lot of other people who have also had very bad side effects.

What people with emotional disorders really need is people support such as therapy and support groups. They also need a good diet, exercise, job training and a good job after all that. There has never been any proof that Psychiatric drugs "cure" mental illnesses so that should never be the main focus of treatment. This city, along with dozens of others cities, desperately needs mental health care centers that do not use any psychiatric drugs. These centers need to been open 24/7 because mental illness never takes a break. Please give more choices in the mental health care system. If this doesn't happen, the whole mental health care system will get progressively worst. 

Sincerely,

Jon W. Werner
Sun City, Arizona

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As a psychiatric survivor who was once tortured with 110 insulin shocks at McLean Hospital in the 1950s and an antipsychiatry activist, I am writing to voice my criticisms of NIMH's draft strategic plan.

Since your strategic plan is medically and psychiatrically biased, there is no room for non-drug and non-psychiatric alternatives. The fact that your plan mentions psychiatic drugs 98 times and brain 38 times betrays your narrow focus, biomedical bias, and unrealistic perspective on human suffering fraudulently labelled "mental illness" or "mental disorder".

Instead of promoting physically-intrusive, brain-damaging procedures such as psychiatric drugs ("medication"), electroshock ("ECT"), and psychosurgery, you should be supporting and promoting several proven non-medical alternatives: peer counselling, crisis centres, community-based supportive houses (e.g.,the Soteria model), safe runaway houses, drug withdrawal centres, trauma centres that can help people (especially women) recover from electroshock, 'hearing voices' groups and other support groups, drop-ins, advocacy, holistic methods including meditation, yoga, exercise and diet--to name a few.

These non-medical, community-based and survivor-run alternatives are infinitely safer, more effective, healing and empowering. Unlike the neuroleptics, antidepressants, electroshøck and psychosurgery, that damage the brain, disable the body, disempower and stigmatize vulnerable people in crisis, ruin lives, and frequently cause death, they help traumatized people heal and empower themselves and respect ther human rights-- including our right to control our own lives without threat or fear of psychiatric intervention.

I think I know why you chose not to mention these non-medical alternatives. One reason is because you and your funding partners (e.g.,multinational drug companies or 'Big Pharma') are indoctrinated into and promote the biomedical model of "mental illness" to such an extent that you can not imagine or are afraid to imagine non-medical methods as being more effective and helpful. than traditional and coercive psychiatric procedures. Another possible reason is that supporting non-medical alternatives would threaten NIMH's drug company funding and biologically-oriented research into people's personal problems or life crises you've medicalized and stigmatized.

I hasten to point out that your draft strategic plan is in fact a frighteningly comprehensive method of social control--not healing or empowerment.

By the way, are there any psychiatric survivors (not "consumers") on your strategic planning committee? If so, how were they selected and whom do they represent? If not, they should be members. Perhaps you have heard or read about the common slogan voiced by many psychiatric survivors and self-help groups - NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US. It's worth remembering.

Given the fact of NIMH's obvious medical model bias, its close partnership with Big Pharma, and its exclusion of psychiatric survivors on the strategic planning committee, there is nothing constructive, creative or humane in your draft plan. A paradigm shift away from the medical model and toward self-healing, empowerment and respect for human rights is necessary and long overdue. In the meantime, I remain vigilant and on guard against more psychiatric assault and human rights violations masquerading as "safe and effective treatment".

Sincerely, Don Weitz, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am a member of Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities, and hereby am requesting of your agency to invest funding on alternatives to the constant dependence of psychotropic medications, inwhich in many cases individuals are not only becoming dependent on, but also their metabolism is constantly going through the unnatural processes induced by the reliance of the medications, which often times leads to sever drug usage.

There are many other alternatives that can and should be implemented inorder to heal the traumatizations of those suffering mental illness inorder for their wellness to be enhanced and maintained on a more natural and stabilized manner.

These alternatives presented to you will be a contributing factor to both the families of those suffering and society as a whole not to mention the fact,

  1. That those suffering can and will have options in their therapeutic journey to wellness,
  2. That a much higher sense of self esteem will be acknowledged by those suffering the illness and prompt them to become contributing members in society,
  3. It will allow those suffering illnesses to come forward and seek treatment openly.

Examples of such interventions include but are not limited to:

  • A- All kinds of non-drug psychotherapy - not just the ones that can be manualized. Included should be Gestalt therapies, psychoanalysis, other psychodynamic therapies, expressive therapies, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, hypnotherapy, modern group technique (based on Hyman Spotnitz' work), body-centered psychotherapy, Reikian therapy, etc., etc., etc
  • B-Other forms of intervening to help persons diagnosed with behavioral health disorders including employment assistance, supportive housing, peer specialist training, Soteria-type houses, expanded clubhouses, traditional education, non-traditional education, self-directed care (giving patients control over some the money that is allocated for treatment), etc., etc., etc.

Thus I encourage NIMH to spend a much larger percentage of its budget on research and demonstrations that promise to help people in the immediate future, i.e. not within five to ten years. The present methods utilized is not true of brain research(consisting of medicating and altering further,natural responses to to what the sufferer has been exposed too)

This agency is accountable to society and it's resident's, and the pratices recommended herein surely will enhance health and the community.

Respectfully,

Carlos Sabater

RIPPD Member

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear National Institute of Mental Health:

In the over 100 years that psychiatry has searched the brain to find the cause of madness or mental illness and developed treatments based on the assumption that the cause(s) would be found there, the disability rate attributed to mental illness in this country has increased 6-fold,[1] early death has increased to the point where people engaged in the public mental health system's life-spans are now 25 years shorter than the general population.[2]  Clearly, this research direction has not yielded good results.

However, there are many experts on recovery to full, complete and fulfilling lives after receiving a diagnosis of serious mental illness and a hopeless prognosis.  In the main, they are the people who have achieved it for themselves. NIMH should study the factors that allowed these people to defy the odds and what they recommend.  These are mainly choices besides just the drugs, including such things as peer support.

There is a tremendous, new book, "Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry," edited by Peter Stastny, MD., and Peter Lehmann, which NIMH must review and follow-up on if it is to conduct truly useful research.  Dr. Stastny is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and has conducted several publicly funded research projects in the area of vocational rehabilitation, social support and self-help. 

Peter Lehmann is an internationally recognized expert on this issue, having spent many years meeting and working with people all over the world to find out what is working, including being chair of the European Network of (ex-)Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP) from 2002­2004, and serving as its interim secretary since 2004.

The reality is NIMH has ignored a fairly significant body of research that already documents these things while it has poured huge sums into so far fruitless efforts trying to find defective brains behind the problems experienced by people diagnosed with serious mental illness.

A new direction must be explored by NIMH, with at least a significant portion of its research funds.

The following links should take you to the actual studies, but if not, they are available at http://psychrights.org/Research/Digest/Effective/effective.htm


[footnotes:]

[1] http://psychrights.org/Articles/EHPPPsychDrugEpidemic(Whitaker).pdf Anatomy of an Epidemic:  Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 7 (2005):23-35.

[2] http://psychrights.org/Articles/2006NASMHPDonEarlyDeath.pdf Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness, by National Association of State Mental Health Program, October 2006, Joe Parks, MD; Dale Svendsen, MD; Patricia Singer, MD; and Mary Ellen Foti, MD, editors.  See, also http://psychrights.org/Research/Digest/NLPs/joukamaa2006.pdf Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality, by Matti Joukamaa, Markku Helovaara, Paul Knekt, Helio Vaara, Arpo Aromaa, Raimo Ratasalo and Ville Lehtinen, British Journal of Psychiatry (2006), 188, 122-127;

http://psychrights.org/Research/Digest/NLPs/BJP-Healyonsuiciderate.pdf Lifetime suicide rates in treated schizophrenia: 1875-1924 and 1994-1998 cohorts compared, by D. Healy, M. Harris, R. Tranter, P. Gutting, R. Austin, G. Jones-Edwards, and A.P. Roberts, British Journal of Psychiatry, (2006), 188 , 223 -228


James B. (Jim) Gottstein, Esq.
President/CEO

Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
406 G Street, Suite 206
Anchorage, Alaska  99501
USA
Phone: (907) 274-7686)  Fax: (907) 274-9493
jim.gottstein@psychrights.org
http://psychrights.org/

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am writing to you to express my feelings regarding your plans for "mental health." I wonder why it seems to be only drugs instead of therapy like counseling or nutrients or really helping with detoxing if one chooses to do so. I really can't understand why this is all about drugs. You call it "treatment" and overlook the side effects and damages that happen.  You and the system are never accountable for the deaths, suicides or homicides that will occur with drug use.

Each and everyday I see drug ads on TV that seem to show ridiculously happy people who take these drugs.  That's not the way it is. You don't see them they way thousands of other families and myself have seen them and the drug companies throw out these unspeakable ads telling the victim who takes them only a few of the hideous side effects and also "to call their doctor".  I've been around many of them when they tried to call their doctor and guess what? Their doctor is no where to be found! Your plans for more drugging of humans with toxic poisons is without a doubt disturbing.  

I have been a member of MindFreedom for over 10 years and have watched and documented hundreds of people who are trapped in the system and being drugged in order to get any help whatsoever. They must take drugs to participate in housing (board and care) and I've watched the owners of several of these places who make the drugging the most important part of their care.

Many of the "clients" are overweight, no teeth, diabetes, heart trouble, restless legs or inner torment, etc. and they cannot participate in many activities because they spend most of their time sleeping due to the affects of these drugs.  They sleep their lives away and die young. It is a horrid way of life. The places they are placed in and call home are usually dirty, bed bugs, too cold or too hot and they get very little nutrition to speak of.  More drugs isn't the answer. More support, talk therapy, nutritional therapy and having friends to communicate with is what they need.  

Choice should be the ultimate offering to humans instead of lockup, drugs, ect and cingulotomy. They are placed in institutions as criminals for the slightest offenses which furthers their ever having a chance at any kind of a real life at all. Some choose death (suicide) because when their bodies are chemically changed and altered and they cannot get back to the way they know they should feel they seem to have no other choice. It is the only way out! No one helps them detox back to a feeling of reality but they do get re-drugged over and over.  

After reading your article it has come to my attention that you forgot to include words like "consumer", "mutual support", "counseling", "nutritional therapy", "empowerment", "rights", "jobs", "holistic" but you did mention drugs that you call "medication" and you did mention "recovery" and we know that the more drugs the less recovery.

Sincerely,
Linda Valentine

RELATIVES & ALLIES OF PSYCHIATRIC SURVIVOR/MINDFREEDOM

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Thank you for the opportunity to provide public feedback to the NIMH Draft Strategic Plan. Below are several miscellaneous comments I'd like to offer.

I'm happy to see the acknowledgement in the Plan that: "While an intervention may potentially prevent or alleviate the symptoms of a mental illness, it may not help; in some cases it might even further impair a person's ability to function in everyday life." Consider, along these lines, that even if a medication makes a person's symptoms easier to manage in the short run, it might not be helpful, or even be harmful, in the long run. It might be that helping a person deal with difficult experiences up front can start the road to recovery, much better than the immediate suppression of symptoms would. If so, then providing safe support for that work would then be the most helpful.

I'm also happy to see that patient preference is recognized in the Plan as a vital component. But I've seen patient preferences become statistically aggregated by studies then turned into a one-size-fits-most model that then stops asking individual patients for their preference! "Patient preference" remains meaningful only with regard to each and every individual's own personal preferences.

Don't define "outcome measures" in terms of "adherence to treatment", even in part. If a given treatment doesn't work well, then adherence to it per se won't improve outcome. Without an unrelated independent measure of outcome to show whether a treatment truly helps, greater adherence to it means nothing.

To learn how to better help people recover from schizophrenia, first find out why the long-term recovery rate for schizophrenia is much greater than was previously believed, how that had been missed by researchers for so long, what conditions or interventions help or harm that long-term recovery, and why recovery rates are better in developing countries than developed countries.

To learn how to treat and prevent depression, first find out why the rate of depression has been increasing dramatically over the past few decades.

To learn how psychiatry can better help people, first find out why there are so many intelligent thoughtful people who feel strongly that psychiatry has instead significantly harmed them, and have actively turned away from psychiatry to look for other alternatives. Seek to learn more from the perspectives of people such as those who contributed to the report "From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speak for Themselves" by the National Council on Disability, or have formed numerous organizations such as the Icarus Project, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, or MindFreedom International (which is recognized as a human rights and disability NGO with Consultative Roster Status by the United Nations).

It's of course important to test and validate mental health hypotheses using rigorous quantitative measures. But much of the bias in current research actually comes during the hypothesis-generation stage: A relatively small number of well-connected researchers get the funding and authority to explore their favorite hypotheses, the ones they personally find the most interesting or financially rewarding. A quantitative study may measure exactly what it was designed to measure, while failing to detect that there are also a few "large elephants in the room". The conclusions inferred from the results may then be inaccurate.

A vast reservoir of alternative intriguing ideas and hypotheses can be unearthed by actually talking in greater depth with the people who experience these mental health difficulties personally, and asking them open-ended questions about what they've learned. More qualitative descriptive studies are needed to explore people's life experiences, symptoms, obstacles, personal coping strategies, and more. Patterns will emerge that will lead to new and exciting hypotheses.

When looking for statistical correlations between genetic or neurological findings and mental health problems, skip the DSM diagnoses altogether and look directly for correlations with individual symptoms. DSM-defined "disorders" are an imposed artificial construct (committee-created common criteria clusters, based on inadequate past science) that serve only to blur and overgeneralize the picture (e.g. there are 256 ways to meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder).

As the draft report itself suggests, a given genetic or neurological mechanism might be expressed as aspects of different DSM "disorders" in different people, and conversely there might be a variety of different genetic or neurological mechanisms with similar-looking manifestations that lead to the same DSM "disorder". Correlating directly with symptoms instead of DSM "disorders" at least removes a level of unnecessary and often-misleading abstraction, in the pursuit of new constructs that will be more valid and useful.

Consider hypotheses that relate to emotionally healthy environments and development, as well as particular genetic or neurological findings. Consider the common role that stress, stressful environments, and stress responses may play in numerous mental health problems.

Examine cultural diversity not only in terms of genetics, but also in terms of differences in emotionally healthy environments.

Explore non-medication ways of helping people deal with various states of overwhelm. A person's overwhelm may pass much sooner if they find that the medical system does not itself become overwhelmed by it, and can instead assist them effectively in coping with it. Consider the various kinds of support that most people find the most helpful when they're overwhelmed. Then consider how poorly equipped and poorly skilled most psychiatric hospitals are at providing that kind of help. Consider that the increased risk of suicide following a hospitalization isn't because of an abrupt loss of support, but because the "best" the system could offer at a time of crisis was wholely inadequate.

When exploring "theory of mind" hypotheses for autism spectrum disorders, consider that we all approach "theory of mind" toward others based on our own internal experiences and assumptions. It goes both ways: Some writings by adults with autism have expressed amazement at the lack of "theory of mind" on the part of researchers and clinicians toward them!

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been studied a lot mostly because it was intentionally designed as a therapy that's easy to study. Be careful not to study only the phenomena that are easier to study. Also look at things that are harder to study but could potentially turn the existing familiar paradigms upside down and create new, more helpful, paradigms.

Thank you for your invitation for public feedback to the NIMH Draft Strategic Plan, and your serious consideration of all of the views submitted.

Sincerely,

Phil Thompson
Los Altos, CA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am a stakeholder in your organization and I have to say, I'm not particularly thrilled with this current draft of your strategic plan. Enough with the drug research already! I am fed up with all the drugs I have previously taken and those I take today that aren't helping me manage my illness. How about something completely different, like adjunct therapies that CAN help?

As a society we have learned over the past several hundred years that it sometimes takes a few false starts to lead to definitive positive societal improvement. In mental health and wellness terms, this has meant hundreds of years of shame and social stigma for people with mental illness: isolation, incompletely researched drug "cures" with more dangerous or adversely affecting side effects than the symptoms themselves, and we have a history of horrible and unethical treatments (oh, what a joy those lobotomy years were!). 

Medications and drug-specific therapies have provided relief to too few people with mental illness relative to the population of people who have mental illness. But medications have never been the be-all or end-all treatment; there are adjunct therapies that can dramatically reduce symptoms and help those of us with mental illness -- therapies that are encouraged, by the way, by physicians, counselors, therapists, and nearly all other people who care for and help us manage our illnesses. Where is your research on these alternative non-drug therapies, friends?

Before you begin doing more research on more drugs, I challenge you first to devote the majority of your efforts toward Strategic Objective #3: take a collective look at the wealth of adjunct therapies that remain ignored by NIH thus far, those useful tools which have not received your dollars or your research or your attention because they're not pharmacological fixes.

I would like to add one last thought: NIH seems bent on drugs drugs drugs. What's WITH that?? If you're absolutely determined to continue this single-focus research on psychopharmacology you'll eventually raise the ire of enough of us that you'll be forced to rethink what you are not providing people with mental illnesses.

Aside from the trouble an uprising could cause you, though, because medication research tends to be drastically skewed toward adult white males -- I challenge you to include far more specific research on the effect of medications on women of all ethnicities and incomes and ages, including those of childbearing age. You will never ever get accurate research results unless you include ALL members of the complex and diverse groups in your studies.

I stand UNITED with my peers in saying that the corporate drug industry model you choose to stalwartly support is choking out non-drug choices, including jobs, housing, peer support, psychosocial approaches, and more.

Enough with the phychopharmacology studies!

More of everything else!!

Thank you.

Sincerely,

E.L. McConnell,
Madison WI

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I believe there are more ways to help humans and family systems behavior than the use of psychotropic prescription drugs. Innovative ways to intervene within family context can be expanded and rediscovered if more funding is allocated to time spent arbitrating and mediating the dynamics of conflict and resentments within the family systems. I believe more planning can be done to design methods to help whole family units versus simply identified patients alone. This plan could eliminate the stigma associated with single or multiple diagnosis that hinder individuals for the rest of their lives.

It would be exciting to open the doors to multiple choices that a human could use to change behavior and to feel better about their lives especially non-drug choices. Increased quality of life and resolutions to family dynamic conflicts or resentments should always be the goal. Decreased value as a person always comes with labeling humans with mental disorders whether it is seen through the eyes of a family member?s or doctor?s perspective. The administration of psychotropic drugs foil a human?s quality of life even the more.

At any time, the patient is obstructed from a better quality of life, changes should occur from ALL sides and not just the identified patient. Changes need to expand to the other members of the healing system. This choice to change would also include the doctor and other family member(s) affecting the identified patient. Any hindrances found within the group of people would be identified as possibly, the patients?, the doctors? and other family members? contributions to the problem as well as their limitations. The continuous use of blaming a patient as being sick needs to be eliminated. Blame must reside in everyone, including the society at large.

The NIMH should have research on individuals who receive therapy but do not receive a diagnosis or medication as a result. They should use these cases as a control or placebo within a grouping of statistical analysis. From that baseline or standard, they should discover what happens to a person as a whole from the moment they first receive a diagnosis and other family members know or other people know about the diagnosis. A synergistic study should be done comparing the said control stated above with individuals that just have a diagnosis with continued therapy and then, finally with individuals with therapy plus psychotropic prescription drugs.

Although drug manufacturers state that people with a diagnosis, therapy plus the use of prescription drugs do better, I beg to differ. I have personally witnessed the testimony of over 500 people over a period of 4 years and not one of those people were happy about their encumbered situation they now found themselves.

Therefore, I also believe that the Federal Government, themselves, would be more than happy to fund statistical analysis described above. Unfortunately, it is the Federal Government, family members and finally the public taxpayer that bear the burden of these miserable people and their miserable situations. After rounds of therapy and diagnosis/labeling, a person receives a bad name and reputation. This eventually disgraces their character to the point that no one wants to hire them. Simultaneously, the psychotropic drugs administered are risky to the point of increased medical bills.

The medical bills come from all directions based on the initial detrimental effects of even the very first prescribed drug, an d much more so on the cocktail of psychotropic drugs administered to the patients. All of which the Medicare and Medicaid programs are footing the bill for these increased health care costs. Indeed the Federal Government becomes the washboard for most of those labeled me ntally ill because they supply the needs of their very existence. Disability and SSI payments come into play as humans get sicker and sicker from the administration of psychotropic drugs.

I believe accountability for true COST BASIS/RISKS versus BENEFITS of psychotropic drugs needs to be done and reported accurately to the United States Government, and the United States public. Once the statistical analysis has been done, the impact of the cost savings non-drug choices use would be uncovered. The study should account for associated indirect costs involved with taking prescribed drugs such as extra medical bills above and beyond mental health bills, time away from work, and even on the loss associated with no longer having a favorable voice in society because of a mental illness diagnosis.

A report of how, where, and who has truly benefited from drug therapy needs to be identified with true values and numbers. To know the true cost and therefore, what the actual financial risks are associated with having a mental illness can then be quantified. Using these parameters, the real risks versus benefits of the use of psychotropic drugs can be properly illustrated with numbers.

Federal funding should provide the alternative cost basis necessary to provide more time with patients and families and doctors needed to arbitrate and deliberate on where conflicts are coming from, and how to resolve those dynamics. A neutral party should be able to intervene, especially if problems are occurring for the identified client are coming from an outside family member/friend on a continuous basis that cannot be resolved without an authority that is trained to help.

Meanwhile, sustaining humans labeled mentally ill from being ostracized by all people should be done by having non-drug choices. Rather than using organizations funded by the drug companies themselves, we can resource the organizations that offer non-drug choice alternatives. You cannot get any clear messages or facts from the drug company manufacturers that simply want to sell a product to a consumer.

There also needs to be an end to the journey of the mentally ill. There should be an end to the process where the patient can have a choice to close their file without contingencies from anywhere. Recovery does not have to be a journey or process that never ends. Wellness can happen and discussions on whether a human is sick in the head or not can end. There is a cure to mental illness but it does not always reside in the hands or head of the identified client/patient. Almost always the cure lies in the hands and minds of doctors, family members and even stretches to the media/public.

I believe more programs should be instituted that teach others to let go of calling other humans names or labeling them. Speaking to the hearts of others needs to be a skill that is developed versus just acting calm and sociable with no expression of true emotions. I believe this skill alone would put the masses? minds at ease. I believe more programs should be started to teach doctors, family members and patients new vocabulary skills on how to talk to people. In the power of the tongue is the power of life and death. If you can?t destroy someone with a tongue treatment these days, then the next best way is using psychiatric drugs to do the job. There simply has to be a kinder, gentler, more humane way of h ealing human beings, families, doctors, and the society at large.

Heather Patenaude

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello -

Alzheimer's is the only mental illness which can be "proven" using a laboratory test. But if the mental health professionals joined forces with the nutritionists and physicians, they would find that all the people currently on brain-altering medications are actually suffering from major vitamin deficiencies and intestinal permeability, both of which can be cured by changes in DIET.

Everyone in this country knows someone who has been "diagnosed" with a mental health disorder. The response by the mental health professionals has been "talk therapy" and drugs. That's it -- no lab tests to determine whether someone has a vitamin deficiency or whether toxins are leaking from their intestines (they have found gliadin - the protein in wheat - in people's brains), Dr. Alessio Fasano at the University of Maryland has discovered that people who eat gliadin produce too much of another protein called zonulin, which causes more space between the cells: if you eat gluten/gliadin, your intestines are probably leaking toxins throughout your body, causing any number of physical and/or mental disorders (and autoimmune diseases). Dr. Hadjivassiliou in the United Kingdom has been researching the effect of gliadin on the neurological system for several years. Studies by both of these doctors can be found on PubMed.

Surely the astonishing improvements in the behavior of many autistic children after being placed on a gluten-free/casein-free diet warrant at least some interest by NIMH. Legislatures in individual states are discussing "evidence-based treatment" before allowing further funding of mental health treatment -- what could be more "evidence-based" than REAL lab tests showing REAL health problems?

Blood tests will show vitamin deficiencies; a lactulose-to-mannitol test will check for intestinal permeability, gastric permeability can be diagnosed with a sucrose test.

We are treating the mind and the body as separate entities! A collaborative effort by both the mental health professionals and the physicians MUST occur to stop this epidemic of mental illness.

Karen Cormac-Jones

Salem, Oregon

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please consider the wide variety of healing methods that give hope to people who are suffering mental distress. Historically, much creative and empathetic work has been done to stay connected to the process of trauma, and to aid the sufferer in finding their strength to reach the other side.

Consider all the creative people who contribute their wisdom to human progress from these experiences.

I encourage you to look to the long-term health and potential of the human spirit, not only the drugging of every symptom.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Gracie Kowles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am writing to you today to ask that the NIMH Strategic Plan include more choices for consumers in regards to healing and recovery. As a consumer and psychiatric survivor the NIMH Strategic Plan has a direct and immediate affect on my life and the direction it takes can determine what options are available to me, and many others. Right now the NIMH Strategic Plan does not include many choices. It's sole focus on medication as the only therapy radically limits the options people have in their lives.

As a consumer I know that medication is not and could never be the only thing that I turn to for help. Many therapies I use on a daily basis have helped me to recover and become a part of my community again.

I think community involvement and outreach are of the utmost importance for people suffering with psychiatric illness. No one enjoys suffering alone. I know for me personally being able to go back to work and hold a job has done wonders for me in my recovery. Also living on my own and gaining a sense of independence and inner strength has helped me immensely. What has helped me to get to a place where I could work again was not only medication.

Nutritional and holistic therapies have been greatly beneficial to me, as have counseling, psychotherapy, dance, and art therapy. I know I would not be where I am today if it were not for all of these things. We have to begin to look at the whole person if we are ever going to see true healing.

Thank you for your reconsideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Genevieve Andrus

Missoula, MT

~~~~~~~~~

I would like to strongly recommend that treatment modalities other than drugs be included in the research and funding planning at the highest levels.  I would never argue that medications are extremely useful, often essential in the treatment of mental illness.  And I must insist, and insist that your organizations recognize, that they are not the only avenue for recovery.

Your statement thus far recognizes drugs, barely addresses recovery, and makes no mention of: counseling, peer support, supportive employment, supportive housing, psychosocial rehabilitation.  There is nothing about family supports and the education and training of family members of those who are mentally ill.  Please include solid research, and if found effective, solid funding, for endeavors of this type.  Otherwise you miss a great opportunity to promote recovery.  Recovery is what happens beyond treatment--when people are not just facing diminished symptoms, but are actually living well.

Is this not our goal?  I challenge the NIH and the NIMH to a vision that goes beyond treatment, to Recovery, which is living well, even with a serious chronic illness.

Jana A. Spalding, M.D.

Inmate Mental Health Specialist, Broward Sheriff's Office

Pompano Beach, FL

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you desire for us to believe you are sincere in "helping" us, please consider sensible alternatives to drugs in the treatment of 'mental health'. I know that many of you can see alternatives. Please exercise your humanity and be the cause of the change in approach to the sensitive human spirit, that reacts to our insensitive world in the form and shape of what you choose to call "mental disorders"......please...please??

Shalom & Rose Bey; Burlington, New Jersey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

to:

Dr. Thomas R. Insel

Director, NIMH

Dr. Insel,

As I examine your Strategic Plan, I ask myself why you have invited public comment.  What do you wish to gain from the input of others? As I have seen little credence given to public opinion on these matters of Mental Health, I start my commentary with little hope of impinging, in any meaningful way, on you or any of your Brainstorming Session staff. I would, however, be remiss in my responsibility were I to stay silent and so I will accept your invitation to voice my concerns.

In your opening message, you state, “It is important to note that the changing landscape is found outside the scientific laboratories as well.”  You later state that, “There is an unavoidable tension between the urgent need for transformation and the longer-term nature of scientific progress; scientific progress is generally slow and incremental – too slow and too incremental for families who need more effective treatments today.”

Firstly, jumping ahead of “scientific progress” has led to gross and quite frankly, unforgivable liberties taken in the mental health field.  Administering potent psychotropic drugs to children where clinical studies were either not done or clearly demonstrated contraindications of magnitude in this age group, is criminal. This is only one of many examples of the deleterious effects of acting outside of the laboratory.  The motives for doing so are specious and fueled by commercial interests; “stakeholders” as you so aptly describe them to be.  

I would agree that there are solutions outside of the scientific laboratory but these will not present themselves within the context of the basic postulate you forward.  Is it possible that man is a spiritual being who is senior in importance to the mechanical apparatus of the brain and the body?  Is it possible that man only possesses this apparatus as a means to perceive the physical universe but that he, himself, is not the brain or the body? With this question becoming a stated postulate, you can begin to extricate the mysteries and confusions of the human problem with ease.

Neither genetic make up, DNA spirals or neuron synapses have anything to do with character, ethics, honor, virtue, righteousness, etc., etc., etc.  These fall under the domain of the spiritual being.

All beings are basically good.  This is why you will find that when someone does something dishonorable they will try to cave themselves in emotionally and physically to protect others from themselves.  This is done quite automatically.  This is what hell and insanity are made of and the path down the dwindling spiral of sanity to insanity.  Nothing more.

You may give mind numbing chemicals to dampen one’s “guilt” but in the end these people are stripped of their creativity and sentience and rendered zombies of a fashion, never actually alleviating the source of their unhappiness and despair.  There is a road out but it is not through the use of medications, ECT, or any of the other barbaric or misguided “treatments” you espouse.

This brand of “science” of mental health is somewhat accepted by the general populace as it allows us, as a society, to be irresponsible by explaining away our behavior as out of our control.  If we are “mentally ill” or depressed, we are simply victims of chemical processes gone awry.

Regarding page 23, Appendix A, Objective 2.: Develop reliable, valid diagnostic tests and biomarkers for mental disorders.

You have no reliable, valid diagnostic tests and biomarkers, thus the need to develop them here as an objective.  This, however, has not kept you from administering Schedule II Narcotics and other mind altering drugs to the populace.  Shouldn’t you have had these tests developed long ago?

The truth is that you will never develop valid tests as “mental illness” and depression will never have biomarkers.  THEY ARE NOT BIOLOGICAL.  If you keep going down this path, you will never cure anyone.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER

This begs the question: Do you really want to cure anyone?

I believe the answer is no.  This is about business – big business.

I would not be so inflammatory were you not committing such horrendous crimes against humanity.  I have actually held me tongue here.

Brain storm this:

How do you all sleep at night?

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Fagen

Chicago, IL

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Greetings

We physicians need to go back to school to reacquaint ourselves with the Hippocratic Oath, (which I took some years ago, and my father before me). We need to study it, discuss it, read what past medical greats have said about it, reflect on it; and when we have become re-aware that we are bound for life by that Oath, we need to recommit ourselves to the enduring and immutable principles of the profession of medicine: Primum Non Nocere (first, do no harm) and  unconditional committment to the health, welfare and best interests of the patient -- above all else.

We will then begin to realize the immense amount of damage chemical, shock and coerced physical  psychiatry has done to the physical and spiritual health of the patient,  to democracy and society, and to medicine itself.

We have allowed the money changers into the Temple of Medicine, and have sold this noble profession and our patients down the river, for a few measly pieces of silver. It has been a rotten deal all around, and we need to throw the money changers out before more damage is done, and before it is too late. Emerson wrote that "Nothing will bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

Nothing will bring happiness to physicians but the restored philanthropic ideals of the profession: service to humanity through the loving, mutual quest for the recovery of health by the patient, and thereby, the physician's, without regard whatsoever for material gain, corporate interests, the "medical-industrial complex", pride, power, prestige, or other selfish interests of any kind. Our material needs will be well taken care of by our patients and society, as they have always been.

I associate myself with every criticism of chemical, biological, organic, pharmacological psychiatry others have expressed to NIMH about the "Strategic Plan", as well as the constructive, alternative suggestions that have variously been made. The plans to continue and increase mischievous chemical, shock and other physical meddling in the sacred psychic and spiritual lives of troubled (or different) human beings who seek psychiatric help reflects nothing less than the repudiation of the ideals of unselfish service to humanity contained in the Hippocratic Oath, and the substitution instead of selfish medical, corporate and commercial interests. I recognize this debasement of psychiatry is true of other specialties, but I am responding to the Strategic Plan here.

I also recognize the very difficult ethical, moral and practical challenges  faced by NIMH. Principle has been abdicated wholesale in our national life; it is no surprise that it has happened in medicine, too. But we need to remember our fragile, contingent and mortal status as human beings, and instead summon up the courage to face up to our faults and failings, and begin to undo the damage in psychiatry and other areas of medicine, in which we are all - more or less - complicit by now. I urge NIMH to revise the Strategic Plan, to begin to phase out pharmacological psychiatry (which caused the suicide of my best friend in medicine, and caused the deaths of my mother and sister) and to begin to sponsor instead the many non-destructive modalities and approaches available and known to all.

Sincerely, Paul Corrao, M.D.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear NIMH:

There are many alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs which may be more efficacious and less harmful in the treatment of mental illness.

I believe it is important to continue studying the brain, nervous system and its functioning. However, the scientific evidence is that direct manipulation of brain chemistry and brain structure through psychotropic drugs, electroconvulsive treatment and other psychosurgery is only marginally effective in helping individuals who are diagnosed with behavioral health disorders when compared to placebo and is very harmful.

I would encourage the NIMH to put a significantly larger percentage of its budget and its effort into research on a wide variety of interventions that are more likely to be helpful to persons diagnosed with behavioral health disorders and less likely to harm them.  Examples of such interventions include all kinds of non-drug psychotherapy - not just the ones that can be manualized. Included should be Gestalt therapies, psychoanalysis, other psychodynamic therapies, expressive therapies, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, hypnotherapy, modern group technique (based on Hyman Spotnitz' work), body-centered psychotherapy, Reikian therapy, etc., etc., etc

Other forms of intervening to help persons diagnosed with behavioral health disorders including employment assistance, supportive housing, peer specialist training, Soteria-type houses, expanded clubhouses, traditional education, non-traditional education, self-directed care (giving patients control over some the money that is allocated for treatment), etc., etc., etc.

The bottom line is that I encourage NIMH to spend a much larger percentage of its budget on research and demonstrations that promise to help people in the immediate future, i.e. within five to ten years. That is not true of brain research.

Sincerely,

Ellen Singer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please include a wholesome balance in your strategic plans for the future. There are many alternative treatments that should be the first line of treatment for people who suffer from mental illness.  Good diet is one of them.  Meditation is another.  There are many other therapies that can be helpful.  Spontaneous recovery from mental illness is much more common in third world countries where natural, less invasive approaches are taken. John Nash truly does have a great mind and if you read the book "A Beautiful Mind" you will find that his recovery here in the United States is not attributed to mind-altering drugs.   

I believe that no one should be put in a chemical prison (which is what some of these mind-altering drugs do) without a fair trial. Mental patients have a right to know about causative factors such as allergies, thyroid problems, celiac, estrogen dominance, systemic yeast, food additives and xenoestrogens. Our bodies do not require lithium, but they might require thyroid medication. Mental patients have a right to healthy treatment.  Remember, "FIRST DO NO HARM." 


Doctors should be detectives and not just give ubiquitous drugs that mask the symptoms of what could very well be organic causes of mental illness.  Mental patients should be offered help with getting their molecules straight (Orthomolecular Medicine) not straight jackets. The morbidity rate of mental patients is very high because of the deleterious drugs.  No more drugs. No more force. Healthy choices instead!

Thank you for considering my letter.

Sincerely,

Cathy Sanders 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As an administrator in charge of mental health services for the Sacramento City Unified School District, I am deeply disturbed that your strategic plan focuses almost entirely on research relying on pharmaceutical interventions. While these treatments have been of help to some, there is increasing evidence that skilled therapy can provide many of the same benefits with few or none of the side effects. 

In addition to the research your office has done on CBT, family therapy has increasingly become an evidenced-based model with such approaches as Functional Family Therapy and Multi-Systemic Family Therapy showing great promise. I urge you to revise your strategic plan to allocate more funding and attention to these and other counseling-based models, particularly with regards to children's mental health.  

Sincerely, Lawrence Shweky, LCSW

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Please modify your strategic plan for mental health research over the next 3-to-5 years by including psychotherapy and other psychosocial approaches.  Your plan as written over-emphasizes drug treatment and apparently ignores the solid body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of psychotherapy in alleviating mental and behavioral health disorders.  Your plan might as well have been written by the pharmaceutical industry.  

Thank you for re-examining your priorities in this matter.

Dr. Richard J. Freedman

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As a psychologist working with under-served, disenfranchised population in a psychiatric emergency room in a public teaching institution of an urban setting, as well as a private practice practitioner, I am disappointed that the strategic plan for the future research on mental health focuses almost solely on drug and biological research.  The last Surgeon General report on mental health emphasized the need for integration of psychopharmacological, psychological, social, and other services in order to provide adequate care.

Your strategic plan does not include enough opportunities for research funding for research on psychosocial and psychotherapeutic approaches, social, peer, vocational and housing aspects of care for mentally ill. 

I urge you to consider their inclusion in your strategic plan.

Zoya Simakhodskaya, Ph.D.
Director of Psychological Services and Training for Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program Bellevue Hospital Center
New York, NY

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear NIMH:

Over medicating is a serious problem in Mental Hellth USA.  My Life Story of my Mental Illness is in my Creative Math web site with a direct link at:  

http://www.zimmathematics.com/Story/Zim_Life_Story.htm  

Newer medications are also needed that don't zapp people emotionally and intellectually. I have been on Abilify for several years now. It is an amazing medication but better medications are needed. 

Zim

Mr. Zim Olson 

~~~~~~~~~~~

Present levels of research document the effectiveness of many drugs when COMBINED with psychotherapy. There is ample room for more research on the varieties of psychotherapy, not merely research on drugs. Just as drugs have varying impact, likewise different methodologies of talk therapy have various degrees of effectiveness.

As a social worker in private practice I ask that you do all you can do prevent the Brave New World of pill popping. Pills cover symptoms; they do not solve problems.  

 Terry Zenner

~~~~~~~~~~~

I encourage you to provide more research money for choices in mental health system other than drugs.

As an advocate of integrative/holistic/complementary/ Alternative medicine, I would like to see you fund more Research studies on this. People will not know if it works Unless there is research on it. Pharmaceutical companies Have endless amounts of money to fund research on their Drugs, but it is up to NIMH to fund basic research on Integrative healthcare. Who else can pay for it? Currently, NIMH funds little research on it, and the money provided By the NIH Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Is insufficient to answer many questions.

Molly Hauck, Ph.D.

~~~~~~~~~~~ 

I am writing to ask that you add exercise to your plans of study for individuals with mood challenges.  Research concerning the benefits of exercise on mood is not a matter of dispute.  It is well accepted among those who study community health.  

Research on ways to increase motivation and participation in exercise is timely.

Most hospitals have exercise facilities for employees, patients, and sometimes neighbors.  Arrangements with community centers are possible as well.

Vigorous exercise can trigger the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and stabilize the production and use of a host of other biochemicals that are helpful to healthy brain function and maintenance. 

Harmful side effects of medications sometimes do not show up immediately, although weight gains from some neuroleptic medications are immediate for most individuals.  Nonetheless, long-term use of medication can lead to unhappy consequences for many individuals.

The beneficial effects of exercise can be quite immediate. 

I am a cancer survivor.  I am in a clinical trial now to study the effects of exercise on cancer survival.  I can tell you I feel that movements that cross the center of the body (requiring communication between right and left sides of brain) and that call on the vestibular system, feel very good to me. 

Add to this other beneficial effects, such as reduced blood pressure, weight, resting heart rate, blood sugar, and possibly blood lipid levels, and we are really talking about substantial changes in quality of life and cost of medical care when individuals develop exercise programs that work for them.

In addition to the effects on mood, they are also likely effective in preventing falls.  For those who may choose to stay on medications, fall-prevention is especially important as some medications may affect balance and proprioception. 

Studies of exercise are growing for other populations. 

Conducting exercise trials for mental health is long overdue. 

It would be good for trials to be started soon, so that people will feel hope when greater attention begins to fall on the long-term side-effect issues. 

In addition, employment options are growing in the fitness industry.  I belong to 24-Hour Fitness, where many of the workers have phenomenal stories of recovery from health challenges. 

The opportunities for lasting health improvement are heartening for discouraged and marginalized populations with chronic challenges.  Encouraging health insurance companies to support exercise makes sense as well.  Tax incentives spring to mind as a possible method of encouragement.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Mary Saunders

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am writing as a clinical psychologist and as a taxpayer regarding the single-minded focus of NIMH research in recent years on drugs and the biological model in research related to mental health and illness.

As a well-trained clinician with a wide range of experience in drug and alcohol recovery, inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, schools and private practice with a range of degrees of disturbance, I bring to bear a lot of real world experience on these matters. 

I have also performed, supervised and taught psychological testing in all of these settings and can tell you with complete confidence that most of the time patients, students, and clients are misdiagnosed, misunderstood and mistreated. 

This is due to a number of factors, but among them is the reduction in funding and training to clinicians who actually see it as their job to understand correctly and in considerable detail -  the human being that is the focus of their professional attention.  We have shifted all of the training of psychiatrists to the biological, medication model.  In fact all of the training residencies of psychiatrists in the U. S. is paid for by drug companies.  Residencies and, in fact, jobs for psychiatrists are now all about indoctrination with the biological model, rather than thinking or understanding people. 

Funding from all sources for well-trained, doctoral level clinical psychologist has fallen since the late 1980's, with most of these clinicians gone from the underfunded mental health clinics and other settings in which they used to provide the highest levels of expertise, as reported by the consumers in Seligman's research into treatment outcomes.  Consumers report that they find talk therapy helpful 80% of the time, as compared with around 40% effectiveness reported with medications, when one can find a true double-blind study (very rare). 

By funding drugs at the expense of psychotherapy, we have traded a very effective approach for a much less effective one.  The Duke University study from several years back compared anti-depressant medications to diet and exercise and found that diet and exercise was more effective, just looking at symptoms of depression, not at any of the other beneficial effects of diet and exercise. 

Where has that finding gone in the relentless effort to get Americans to reach, not for their personal resources or for their social support network, but for drugs as their first and main effort to deal with life's problems.  What does it teach the young so see the adult culture around them reaching first and foremost for chemical solutions to life's agonies?  What hypocrisy  it is for the adults to take drugs as much as they do and turn around and tell their children not to do the same?

So, is such a single-minded focus on drug research a good idea for the taxpayer's national research agency?  No.  Only with the national government siding with and influenced by corporate interests (money) would such a thing happen.  I would suggest to all of you that you read Marcia Angell, MD's excellent book, The Truth About The Drug Companies, if you want to think and behave more like an American citizen who has the welfare of his fellow citizens in mind.     

Lynn Means, Ph.D. 

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Ladies/Gentlemen
 
I am a psycholoogist licensed for independent practice in New Mexico and a former Clnical Director of the NM State Hospital. I have been an adjuct associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of New Mexico and a surveyor for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Please add my name to your list of those who feel that NIMH's strategic plan is "more of the same," and that it completely overlooks, in the name of the medicalization of all social problems, any alternative view.  

My own alternative view, as expressed in my recent book Healing the Hurting Soul: A Survival Manual for the Black Sheep in Every Family, is that there are no crazy people, but there are crazy-making environments; there are no mental illnesses but there are mad-making histories.

I suggest strongly that NIMH acknowledge publicly its ownership by the pharmaceutical industry (e.g., PDUFA) and endeavor to break that bond by revising its strategic planning to recognize that the provenance of so-called mental illness is NOT in an undemonstrable brain chemical imbalance (a self-serving theory if there ever was one) but in disordered family process.  
Sincerely
 
Louis Wynne, Ph.D.

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To Whom It May Concern:

We are writing to you regarding the Draft Strategic Plan.  Though we may not know or understand the plan in its entirety, we do understand one thing ... this plan is devised about consumers without all consumers.  Any plan that encompasses a decision about persons unaware of it is a plan cannot be effective and honorable.  Though we agree that medicinal choices are a common acceptance and practice, we must state that medicinal choices are not the only choices of treatment that a consumer has available to them.  Medications help some, and are the source of detriment to others.  Herein medications will be termed as drugs, because they are what they are.

Upfront, each individual always has a personal opinion about medicinal options.  Our email isn't about our own views, and they are incited from experiences with the medicinal "choices" avaliable to people in our status of economy.  Any choice of those carbon copied or otherwise is a view they own for themselves, and this email is to represent the views of those who are signed below. 

In no means is this email to discredit the value of appropriate and helpful medication prescription and consumption.  It is to state great concern that no other non-medicinal treatment source is noted or researched.  There are great advantages to non-medicinal approaches, and they are consistently held out of bounds of validity.

In researching one drug, after another and another, in means to find the cure or ease of mental illness, are consumers being heard?  Do they have individual choices to comply or not comply with medicinal choices?  Isn't it the consumer who can speak of whether or not the drug is even wanted or the best choice?  

There are forms of mental illness that are caused or incited  from non-chemical means, which means drug and forced other treatments upon them only increase their disabilities, fears, and mental health concerns.  Trauma-related ilnesses and disabilities are most commonly mistreated, by means of medicinal non-choices and forced treatments.  There are other approaches, and every consumer has a right to voice what choice should be made known to them and would be acceptable to them.  

In the areas where we live, it is common to see a mental health consumer in periods of zombified states.  Their disabilities are not always the cause of such highly dysfunctional states.  It is not uncommon that the ingestion of prescribed medications caused episodes of harm to oneself or harm to another   How is this helpful and effective, or a just a fluke thing - to the person and to society?  In an observers viewpoint, one could mistake a medicated mental health consumer with an illegal drug user.  

We have seen loved ones become different people, after medical intervention of the mentally ill was put into effect.  These people are not changed towards the good and healthy by means of prescribed treatments.  They developed severe symptoms, and in many cases the results are with permanent injury to their well being. 

Yes, medications have helped some.  But it is not the treatment that will help others.  There will always be two opposing forces, until the greater force of forced treatment is subdued by human compassion:  The force of economic gain by coerced medicinal treaments vs. The freedom for an individual to chose their own treatment towards their own value of wellness. 

Prescriptions are accepted by consumers, in many cases, due to compliancy - and trust that the prescriber knows how to "fix" them.  If one is with a choice - take the medication or be put in a place where you will take them by force, a consumer will chose the easy path more often than not.  It does not mean the path was successful, it means the person is passive and subdued to a force that cannot be fought.

We have seen many consumers cry, because:  they are forced to take drugs they do not want to take, it makes them physically sick, their medicine cabinets are filled with drugs of which they pay for in many means, it is against their free choice, they were threatened with hospitalization if they do not, they were harrassed into taking them, they gained more disabilities by taking them, they were facing side-effects and adverse reactions - and therefore have many more drugs forced upon them, etc. 

When a consumer hears that side effects of the drugs pressed upon them to take have symptoms that would not be best suited for them (such as suicidal ideations, death, increase of other uncomfortable physical symptoms - i.e. seizures, anxiety, etc.), wouldn't it - and shouldn't it - be a choice if one wants to take a drug in lieu of risk of such discomforts?  

Do you know what is truly missing from many therapeutic services?  The skill of listening.  Drugs cannot help that;  as it is a therapeutic flaw rather than that being a flaw of a mental illness.  In fact, are the people making such a draft listening, within making a draft without the consent of all consumers to endure it?

In the draft, where are words of "empowerment", "rights" of consumers,  choices", or even the word "consumers",  I am willing to wager that many consumers don't even have a clue that this draft is about them, and to be implemented, by force or other illicit means, on them in time.  If a research is "about" people, then it should be of agreement with those  people".  I had no clue this draft was even in creation;  if even one person is blind to an agenda, then there are possibilities that countless others may be as well.  How can a consumer be left out of agreed involvement of such important researches, yet become the blinded focus of them?  How is it ethical?

St. Lawrence County, Clinton County, and Franklin Counties of NY State are good examples of medicinal pressure-treatment and forced treatment areas.  In fact, NY State (or at least Upstate NY) appears to have serious systemic failures in their mental health system.  Those in NY State, but outside the Upstate NY, turn their backs on our complaints of consumer mistreatments, though their actions have left the consumers in very unhealthy experiences.  

As this draft does indicate a concern as to where it would lead for the mentally disabled as a whole, we are expressing a concern.  One woman, named in signature below, is having a very arduous struggle with the first named County.  Because she filed a complaint of abuse and retaliation, she was deemed a "disgruntled mentally ill individual" by the Office of Mental Health (OMH).  The Commission on Quality of Care is also included in its efforts to discredit this woman. 

This mistreatment is because she did not comply and submit quietly with their mistreatments and those of the agencies they fund and regulate.  Because she filed a complaint, it is thought she needs an aggressive and forced medical treatment plan, as the complaints are reflected to be a fault of her disabilities and not with systemic flaws - and these two agencies are in conflict with her treatment provider because the provider does not agree with their dominant retaliative choice and decision.  The threats of acts of forced insitutionalization and forced medication are to subdue this woman, and make her shut up and go away.  There have been several threats to put her in a hospital by force, due to filed complaints, to subdue her with medication.  An OMH Representative made such a threat, and pursued his threat by attempt of forced intensive psychiatric evaluation.  She is now locked out of services.  Most services are locked out to her permanently now.

This woman's non-medical choices are targeted in the retaliatioin efforts, and are being violated by forced medicinal non-choice approaches.  Medication is to be the forced means to horrify her and shut her up;  it isn't to be forced on her for medicinal cure or legitimate reason.  Though she is standing strong to oppose this, it is of very high concern where your draft will affect her and her right to choose non-medicinal approaches that have been very successful for her wellness.

The one main problem with this situation with this woman is:  she is smarter than the human services mental health field want her to be.  She pointed out flaws that they want to hide;  ergo, the will to force what is adverse to what she needs and desires.  The spin-off therefore would be to silence legitimate complaints by injecting that she is a flawed person who needs to be heavily medicated.  

What is the intention or agenda of the draft, and will it serve to disempower this woman's choices of preferred treatment plans?  Will it empower corruptions of the offices and agencies involved?  What about the many other people in the same circumstances as this woman, who are silently suffering from other forced medication tactics, will be affected by this draft?  Why aren't the alternative non-medicinal choices of these such consumers represented in the draft?

Can you fathom why this situation is a prime example of how medication is and has been used in unhealthy, unethical, and illegal means by those who have control of it at their disposal?  Are retaliation, power-plays. and force of will good reasons to force a consumer to take medication?

As a mental health clinic therapist said to one consumer:  "I could put you in a place where they will hold  you down and shove the pills down your throat".  Medicinal "choices" are a disillusionment for some consumers.  The list goes on and on of the discomforts for consumers within medicinal approaches, yet those who gain funds by means of the consumers' consumptions of drugs - that sustain a beaucratic and financial glory - don't appear to speak of or acknowledge these flaws.  

Is this the goal in the larger part of the nation?  How will the draft analyze this in its conclusion?

In the nation, people are crying out for other approaches, than that of drugs.  Over and over the nation's public tells its younger generation that streeet drugs should be avoided ... except when drug-sellers are selling drugs in "legal" means.  The same young generation are afforded the ability to see all kinds of cures for ailments by the miraculous means of drugs, yet they also see how drugs can be abused and misused to escape life and accountabilities.  The nation sends conflictual messages to  the younger generations.

If we keep this up, as a nation, there will be nothing left of mental reasoning and mental wellness for many people.  If drugs, and ape-like efforts of force to take them, are the cure for everything, where is the hope?  Where are we, as a collective, heading?  More so if economy and sales of medications over-rides inherent human compassion?

The mind is a marvelous creation.  The brain has much more left undiscovered   If it isn't the brain that is broken (as society itself may be the source of what is broken), how are drugs to fix it?  What of those consumers who would do very well with non-medicinal approaches?  What of those who are doing very well with alternative non-medicinal approaches?  It means nothing that research doesn't include them in the sense of whether or not these methods bring better results than medications - and it means everything if such successes are ignored by an outside entity forcing drugs onto people who manage very well without them.

If drugs are thought to be the effective approach, I would welcome any one of the individuals to spend one month in the shoes of a person forced to endure such narrowed guidelines.  Even guinea pigs are living beings.  No human being should be treated as a statistic or used as an unaware laboratory rat.  Every consumer has a choice ... and no enitity or public body has the right to take that choice from them.

In closing, if the Draft Strategic Plan fails to include other alternative non-medicinal approaches, then it will begin as an uneducated and narrow approach to exclude reasonable and appropriate results.  It will fail the many consumers who are successfully living a better life, without medicinal controls in place.  The above information should justify why we are concerned as to the draft's intentions and usage.  Other non-medicinal approaches are noted below.  Your draft must include other non-medicinal approaches to be of a successful result for those that the draft is about - CONSUMERS.

Sincerely,

James Hellyer

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I've practiced as a clinical/neuropsychologist and psychotherapist with institutionalized, seriously disturbed folk for more than 25 years.

I have done research, developed neuropsychology laboratories to assess severely ill individuals and developed and managed inpatient programs.  This is the foundation of my experience.    

Unfortunately, your strategic plan appears to be more of the same pharmaceutcal industry driven programs, albeit labeled differently.  The emphasis on substantive, effectively proven alternative treatments is absent.  

There are a host of non-biopsychiatric-pharmaceutical programs, successfully developed and running in this country and in Europe with severely disturbed individuals resulting in less recidivism and better community adjustment than comparable programs utilizing biopsychiatry and pharmaceuticals.  Your plan totally disregards these effective alternatives. 

The languange of "recovery" is only a thinly veiled substitute for the prior "disease" language. 

To this day there is little if any scientific research supporting the concept of psychosis or "schizophrenia" as a "disease."  More than a century of research has failed to produce rigorous proof, acceptable in science, that psychosis or the variants in the DSM qualify as "disease."

Yet, you continue to rely on the biopsychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex to define your research, define your objectives and covertly suppress or silence any effective alternatives by lack of funding or subtle implied threats of withdrawl of funds if such research becomes a focus on university campuses. 

The research on "evidence based practice" is poor and inconsistent, yet these, especially cognitive behavioral approaches, are looked upon with acclaim.
 
So-called "wellness and recovery" programs supported by the federal government are nothing more than biopsychiatric programs relabeled, requiring more paperwork from professionals, necessitating they spend less quality time with individuals in their care as a result of the increased paperwork.  There is no change from past years.  The biopsychiatric-pharmaceutical industry determines what programs are funded at NIMH, not science.  

It is a sad state of affairs for the millions of people in this country labeled as "mentally ill"  that this large agency continues to operate in the constricted, uncreative and rigid way that it does.  Repeating, over and over, the failures of the past.  Ignoring successes that have been created by rational alternatives to biopsychiatry and the pharmaceutical lobby.    

Jasenn Zaejian, Ph.D.,
Clincal Psychologist
Huntington Beach, California

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am both a mental health consumer and a professional psychotherapist.  I am very concerned that your strategic plan appears to be basically a plan for putting more and more psychiatric drugs on the market.  Although some individuals, including myself, choose to take psychiatric drugs and see them as a benefit, this method of treatment should not be the primary focus for NIMH research funding. 

Even in the best of cases, medication only serves as an adjunct to treatment.  Psychotherapy, life style changes, and peer support all offer alternatives that don't simply deal with symptoms but rather help individuals make positive and lasting changes in their lives.  Yet your plan discusses none of these alternatives to drug treatment.  This is our taxpayer dollars going toward drug companies making more money rather than providing consumers choices and proven treatments.

Jamelia Saied, MBA, M.Ed., current doctorate student in clinical psychology, mental health consumer

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Regarding the NIMH's plans for research on mental disorders, I'd like to offer some comments and suggestions.   
I'm a recovering sufferer of depression, and apparently PTSD and related disorders.  I say "apparently" because these other disorders were not diagnosed until I was in treatment for several years.

Like many, I was simply put on medications.  My obligatory "talk" therapy might have been much more helpful if my therapists had been knowledgeable about the latest research and techniques, but sadly, most mental health caregivers aren't.  I tried a dozen.   

In my frustration, I took it upon myself to learn more about the roots of mood disorders and the most effective treatments.  This can be a very challenging and confusing task, since the "experts" cannot seem to come even close to agreeing, on anything.  I've learned that there are very few experts.  That is, there's so much more we have to learn.    

Among the several dozen books I've read, most striking is the work of Dr. Charles Whitfield, physician and psychotherapist.  Based on his observations of hundreds of patients in clinical practice, Whitfield formulated some theories and set out on a mission to review hundreds of studies on causes of mental disorders.    

It would be an understatement to say Whitfield's review of the research raises serious questions about the prevailing biogenetic theory of mental disorder, and about the predominant treatment today, which of course is medication.  Psychotherapy may be tried in many cases, but I have to believe its benefits would be much greater if only therapists understood such things as the importance of uncovering early traumas and dealing openly with them.   

This is a major finding in Whitfield's review of the research, and in fact a finding increasingly made today by those willing to question the conventional wisdom and follow the canons of science rather the temptations of big dollars.  This importance of childhood trauma is also evidenced in the work of Alice Miller, Terrence Real and others.   

To make a long story short, based on what I've learned and what I've experienced, it indicates that the research should go beyond drugs and look at the effectiveness of different types of treatment, as well as the importance of a patient's history-- in particular any wounds from emotional trauma-- which evidently can cause severe damage that is not just emotional, but also neurological and physical.   

Since I am not an expert, I will stop here and leave the technical issues to the experts.  I just hope that they can now begin to look beyond the conventional wisdom, not to mention the drug dollars.   

Thanks,
Tony Giordano

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I believe it is important to continue studying the brain, nervous  system and its functioning. My son suffered through years of the wrong medications and more years without any help, no medication and no one teaching him needed skills

When we were in crisis we were one of the fortunate ones to have an insurance that allowed my family to receive services that address my  son as a whole person. We would not have been able to bring my son home with us if his treatment had consisted soley of another medication attempt. Medications can bring some immediate stability during a crisis, but only strong supports for the whole person can maintain.

I would encourage the NIMH to fund research and efforts on a wide variety of  interventions that address the needs of the whole person. My son was starving for someone to help him understand.  He is currently suppported by a therapist that has given him very strong tools during psychotherapy.  He tells other people all the time that he is a new person.

Some interventions worthy of funding include: Gestalt therapies, psychoanalysis, other psychodynamic therapies, expressive therapies, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, hypnotherapy, modern group  technique (based on Hyman Spotnitz' work), body-centered psychotherapy, Reikian therapy, etc., etc., etc

And there is more; in order to be well, supports such as employment assistance,  supportive housing, non-traditional education, peer specialist training, Soteria-type houses,  expanded clubhouses,  and self-directed care must be provided.  

Many people find these supports helpful, yet research ignores the successes.  

The bottom line is that I encourage NIMH to spend a much larger  percentage of its budget on research and demonstrations that promise  to help people in the immediate future, i.e. within five to ten  years. That is not true of brain research alone.  Supportive therapies impact and save human beings NOW!

Debbie Brandt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We the Patients Rights Advocacy Waikato Incorporated, New Zealand:

Support a non drug recovery programme.

We do not support drugs or Electro Convulsive Shock.

We want freedom of choice, an holistic health system Free from force and coercion.

Yours sincerely
Anna de Jonge and team
Patients Rights Advocacy
65 Tawa Street
Hamilton
New Zealand
Ph: +64 7 8435 837
email:<rens.dej@clear.net.nz>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I am writing as a professional in the mental health industry with interest in the draft of the NIMH Strategic Plan. To be frank, I am disappointed. The emphasis on pharmacological intervention and neurological research overshadows the omission of clinically significant perspectives and therapeutic modalities related to cognition, psychodynamic theories of mind/human relationship, and self-determination.

Additionally, the draft makes no mention of the role of peer support initiatives, such as WRAP, nor does it mention holistic healing approaches germane to so-called complementary and alternative medicine (e.g., acupuncture, meditation, etc.). In my clinical experience, I have witnessed the success and importance of such endeavors. 

Even from a public relations standpoint, the omission of such choices (or the notion of choice itself) from discourse surrounding the treatment of mental illness threatens to alienate and enrage many patients/consumers/survivors, as well as those who care about freedom and human dignity. I urge you to rectify the imbalances in the draft document with care and haste.

Best,
Ben Blohowiak
--a former manager of ServiceNet, Inc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I have read over your draft of the strategic plan and am greatly troubled by your continuing pouring of federal funds into medication research which has not panned out thus far and has resulted in brain damage associated with medication side effects. 

I, and many of my colleagues are requesting that this agency devote your funds to far more non-drug choices, like psychotherapy and exercize research and stop dumping more and more of our tax dollars down the hole of psychopharmacology and their thus far "skewed" research and profits.

NIMH should be here to aid the public, not the pharmaceutical industry.

Thank you
Lloyd Ross, Ph.D.

be included in the draft plan!

Lloyd Ross, Ph.D., FACAPP., P.A.
Ridgewood, New Jersey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand that the NIMH is about to finalize its strategic plan. I believe that the plan is deeply flawed as currently written and that additional work is needed to create a plan that is responsive to the most recent research and evidence based practice.

In particular, the report as I understand it is heavily slanted toward a model of mental health that is outdated. The “brain disorder” approach to support and treatment is favored and promoted by pharmaceutical companies but ignores the increasingly strong case for a “recovery” model. This strategic plan appears to have been written with the intention of increasing the profits of those who manufacture psychiatric drugs. I have a hard time believing that this is true- I hope that the plan merely reflects a lack of understanding.

While some people may need some medical support on a short or even long term basis, there is a growing understanding that people can and do recover completely from even the most severe forms of “mental illness”. In fact, the most important factor associated with recovery is the length of time a person has spent on psychiatric medication- the longer an individual has been on meds, the less likely they will ever get well. The “recovery” model emerging from the most current research asserts that an individual’s relationships with others, trust in the people who support them and empowerment are some of the more critical elements involved in healing.

Another serious flaw in the current draft is the lack of recognition that the mental health consumers movement and peer delivered services are playing a growing part in the provision of effective treatment. (For example, peer delivered services are evidence based practice recognized by the surgeon general- where is it in your plan?)

I could go on with the crucial components that are absent from the plan: the role of counseling, mutual support, self-determination, rights, employment, jobs, housing, psychosocial factors and psychotherapy to name just a few. By relying almost exclusively on chemotherapeutic treatment and the utterly unproven “brain chemistry” explanation for mental illness this plan ignores science in favor of a dangerous fantasy that makes people experiencing severe emotional distress more dependent and less able to function as contributing members of their communities.

I am a mental health consumer/ survivor. I also have worked for over 30 years in social services. I am speaking from experience. I am dumbfounded by the draft plan and its inadequacy. Is anybody there paying attention?

I would appreciate a response but I’m sure you are getting a great deal of correspondence regarding this process. Please put me on your mailing list for updates on the strategic plan.

Rick Snook
Empowerment Initiatives

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This is the end of the sample of comments that resulted from the MindFreedom alert, but why stop now?

Add your voice!


While the deadline has passed to make comments on the NIMH 2007 draft, you can always give feedback and ask questions directly to NIMH via their contact information here:


http://www.nimh.nih.gov/site-info/contact-nimh.shtml

   

You are also welcome to submit articles based on what you submit to the NIMH to the MindFreedom web site.

Thank you everyone who responded to NIMH within just six days before their deadline, and thanks to all who to continue to speak out peacefully to change the oppressive and wasteful "domination paradigm" that has for too many years ruled the National Institute of Mental Health, at taxpayer expense.

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Frank Blankenship: Psychiatric Survivor Activist in Florida

Frank is a long-time activist, blogger and protester for human rights in the mental health system, and founder of MindFreedom Florida. Frank chairs the MFI Affiliate Support Committee. Check out his blog Lunatic Fringe, highly critical of the mental health industry abuses.
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