Persons with Psychiatric Labels Create Profits: Now Hitting Mainstream Media

This has been a week of alarming news that has shocked many across our country.  However, several North Carolinians are numbered among the growing number of Americans who have known that mental health care has gone industrial, and in many ways.  But worse, many of us have tracked the knowledge about the dangers to citizens caused by the fact that mental health treatment is far too driven by profits than by promoting patient health.

Now, this is some rough stuff!  First, one article was shared this week reporting that finally, after researchers have re-evaluated original data from a previous study, it has been determined that Paxil does, after all, pose serious threat to adolescents by increasing suicidality.  See article. This begs the question:  is pharmaceutical science truly science when it is appears too frequently to be shaped by a profit motive?

Later this week, we learn that there is an ingestible form of Abilify that carries sensors in it that can measure behavioral responses so that a clinician can amend dosages.  The patient wears a patch that transmits electrical signals for remote clinical analysis.  This sounds like something from a fantasy novel, and it certainly dismisses the dignity of the patient as human with personal liberty in this culture where the next step may well be to force treatment!   (Summary article found in market magazine for Open Minds, a mental health systems consulting group.  Contact for copy:   I recall when my son said that such capability to track and monitor individual’s behavior biologically was under development 7 years ago, and regret I did not believe him (he is no longer with us).  Yet truly, it does not take much for a person to realize that so much of what motivates “progress” is not freedom or health or such humanity-honoring values, but profits!

Lastly, today a fellow NC Advocate has sent out what looks like the first parts of a comprehensive report on just one major producer or our corporate health care industry and its ill-motivated actions to sell, sell, sell drugs without sufficient research or adequate warning to product users—even while the company knew of the existence of these side effects.

I must admit, I have often wondered why some mental health advocates as well as the public and private mental health industries have simply looked the other way in spite of the growing amount of research attesting to the danger of these drugs or certainly to the negligent mismanagement within drug therapy.  It seems that stigma must play a really large role in keeping the door to the abusive use of drugs open to pharmaceutical companies and clinicians.  There is big money to be made as long as there is little regulation and many people looking the other way while even some advocacy groups gain financially when people (often people forced to use these medications) are medicated with little respect for the human experience with these drugs!

Read the alarming report about the power and abandon with which large pharmaceuticals have been allowed while people suffer from sometimes terrible and irreversible side effects.

I believe there are many ways to treat difficult and disruptive thinking or behavior.   And I believe medications can be appropriate though they do not resolve everything—recovering and moving forward requires much more than a pill.  But it is time that we as Americans take it upon ourselves to value each other more and to learn more about what truly causes a person to think, feel, or behave differently.  Then consequently, we must come to terms with what hurts and what helps people and we must take a stand for the abusive practices against persons with psychiatric labels to end.

Post Script 9/28:  A new article was shared with NC CANSO today:

GlaxoSmithKline fined $3bn after bribing doctors to increase drugs sales


Cuts COST!

When dollars are cut to mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services, this translates to negative consequences to our citizens and communities.  Perhaps legislators do not take their actions seriously because they do not take us, people with mental health or other challenges, seriously.  They do not invest in our care because we are not on the radar screen as politically valuable, but they also do not invest because they have no idea how many of us have recovered meaningful, active, contributing lives and they have even less an idea that many more people could be recovering if we have sufficient and timely access to the right treatments and supports!  And those of us who understand recovery already know that our system focuses too heavily on medical management rather than on helping people recover wellness.  This dichotomy of symptom management versus promoting recovery is going to come to a turning point when we finally face the cost of not investing in recovery, because in this age of managed care, research reveals that many dollars are wasted when we focus on crisis systems and medication management instead of on psychiatric rehabilitative and other approaches that reduce crises while supporting a person to become more self-determined about his health and mental wellbeing.

So how can we as self-advocates or supporting recovery advocates help?  We must go to our legislators in Raleigh, show them who we are as people who happen to have psychiatric labels but whose lives are no longer defined by that label, and tell our legislators to invest in recovery!  No one can do it like we can, and our message cannot be ignored because it flies in the face of stigma and wrong assumptions.  It focuses decision-makers on the hopefulness and the known outcomes that drive our individual progress and our advocacy!

Please, call or visit your state senator or house member and let them know who you are, how you have reclaimed meaning and how you contribute, and challenge him or her to consider that outcomes which reveal health, integration into our communities, and yes, reduced joblessness must be drivers of mental health care management and service provision—whoever is managing!  And tell him or her that we are no longer people to be swept under rugs, but whose welfare is valuable and who can no longer vote for legislators who continue to disregard us.  We are North Carolina citizens, we can recover, and we are worth the investment!